NFL insider explains why he wouldn't take Bryce Young in first round of NFL Draft
Merril Hoge recently re-entered the public’s consciousness when a clip of him debating Skip Bayless on ESPN about Johnny Manziel went viral. Hoge, working for ESPN as an NFL analyst at the time, said he wouldn’t take Manziel with a first-round pick and wouldn’t even consider it until the fifth or sixth round. Bayless argued that the Houston Texans, who held the No. 1 overall pick in that draft, would forever regret not taking Manziel.
The former Texas A&M highlight factory started 8 games for the Cleveland Browns and hasn’t played in the NFL since 2015.
When the video of Hoge and Bayless’s debate started making the rounds on Twitter, Hoge shared it and added that “no award or championship (a player) won means they can play in the NFL.”
Well, with the 2023 NFL Draft set to begin Thursday and questions about which quarterback will be taken first overall by the Carolina Panthers, Hoge is back. He went on the Dan Patrick Show on Wednesday and once again played the role of contrarian.
For weeks, the expectation has been that Carolina will take Alabama’s Bryce Young. CJ Stroud and Will Levis have also gotten varying levels of buzz as a potential No. 1 overall pick. Some believe as many as 5 quarterbacks could be taken in the first round.
And yet Stroud is the only quarterback in this year’s class Hoge says he’d give a first-round grade to. Hoge says he wouldn’t spend a first-round pick on Young — a national champion at the college level and a Heisman Trophy winner.
“You take Bryce Young into that pocket-collapsing environment, he doesn’t have a big enough arm so he’s limited in where he’s going to be able to throw, and he’s not the same quarterback (as Stroud). He can’t make those throws,” Hoge said. “That’s going to be a big consistency in the National Football League. He doesn’t play like CJ Stroud does. I still love him, I still think he does a great job. I think he can be a good quarterback. I wouldn’t put a first-round pick on him because that expectation is you’re going to be elite, you’re going to take us to a championship.
“And you have to have this as part of your evaluation: he is fragile. He is not very big. And he’s already displayed that. The year where they were dominant and he won the Heisman Trophy, they were a dominant team and he was awesome. When they weren’t quite the team they were the previous year, people got to hit him, people got around him more, and he didn’t play the entire season. He got hurt because you hit him. … In our league, he’s gonna get hit. He’s not physically… He’s very fragile, and you have to be OK with him not playing a few games every year. You have to accept that could happen. And then with his limited ability to throw from a dirty pocket in an NFL environment, CJ Stroud doesn’t have those things. If I have the choice, I’m gonna take the guy who doesn’t put those limitations on me.”
We’ll soon find out where Young will begin his NFL career. You can see the rest of Hoge’s interview with Patrick below.
Merril Hoge (@MerrilHoge) explains why CJ Stroud is the only QB in this year's draft that he has a 1st round grade on. #NFLDraft
Merri's full appearance: https://t.co/mI6i7R0H6w pic.twitter.com/pHLxalRt93
— Dan Patrick Show (@dpshow) April 26, 2023