Young NFL Players in Struggle Who Shouldn’t Be

To choose quarterback Bryce Young first overall in this year’s NFL draft, the Carolina Panthers forfeited veteran wide receiver D.J. Moore and two first- and second-round selections.


They haven’t gotten much in return thus far.


Ten games into his career, Young has only nine touchdown passes and a league-low 5.4 yards per attempt average. For a team with only one win and little draft capital to show for it, Young is the NFL’s fourth-lowest-rated qualifying passer.


Even if it’s difficult to compare a 22-year-old to the explosive No. 2 choice C.J. Stroud at this early stage, we’re not ready to lose up on a player who still has so much ability to grow.

Here’s why, plus four more instances of young, gifted players who merit some time on the field.


QB Bryce Young of the Carolina Panthers has a weaker case due to the Panthers’ significant investment in him and the fact that Stroud, who has the sixth-highest passer rating in the league, is a potential MVP candidate.


If he hadn’t been moved up for as the first overall pick in a time of impatience and was finishing off his rookie season while the No. 2 pick had one of the best rookie quarterback seasons in NFL history, not many would be breathing down his neck as much.

It’s simple to criticize the inexperienced passer when you consider that head coach Frank Reich of the Panthers has already been sacked.


However, it’s not like Young hasn’t had any positive moments. Even if he had a strong run in October before hitting another slump in November, this is still a very tiny sample size for a player who has only received minimal support and has started two years of collegiate ball.


Remember that Tua Tagovailoa was the talk of trade speculations just two years ago after a dismal debut campaign with the Miami Dolphins. Few people believed in him going into 2021, but in 2022 he was the NFL’s highest-rated passer, and this year as a legitimate franchise quarterback, he is once again a legitimate MVP candidate.

Furthermore, Tagovailoa is not the only one who blooms a little bit later than expected. The Dolphins star and Trevor Lawrence are headed in similar directions. In his first season, Lawrence threw a league-high 17 interceptions, and his rating (71.9) was worse than Young’s current rating of 74.9.

Peyton Manning, Lamar Jackson, and Jared Goff—all first-round picks—likewise had difficulty as rookies before turning into solid franchise signal-callers, if not MVPs and Hall of Famers.

The nature of the crapshoot draft means that there’s a good chance Young doesn’t work out in this league. However, it’s far too soon to declare him a bust.

Bears running back Breece Hall

Running back Breece Hall of the New York Jets has somewhat returned to earth in 2023 after shocking the football world with a 5.8 yards-per-attempt average in limited action as a rookie. In 11 games, he has only scored two touchdowns on the ground with a 4.6 average.

And although it would be easy to blame that on the fact that he was recovering from a serious injury at the beginning of the season, the truth is that his performance in the early going wasn’t problematic.

Since mid-October, the 22-year-old has declined precipitously for unknown reasons. He has only averaged 2.6 yards per rushing attempt since Week 6.

But his impressive rookie and early-sophomore seasons have convinced us that Hall still has star potential and that the Jets’ quarterback position is a huge obstacle to anything lasting for him and the rest of the backfield. A couple formidable defenses have also faced the team during this chilly spell.

When Aaron Rodgers returns from injury in 2024 and the schedule becomes more flexible later in the season, keep an eye out for the 2022 second-round pick to get back on track.

Treylon Burks, WR for the Tennessee Titans

Treylon Burks, a 2022 first-round pick, has only scored one touchdown for the Tennessee Titans in his career halfway through his second NFL season.

Yes, the wide receiver’s injuries play a role. He already missed six games this year in addition to the six he missed the previous year. It’s also reasonable to hold a player’s lack of durability against them in a situation such as this, but it’s not ideal that the 23-year-old has only caught 56.9% of the passes that have been thrown to him; in 2023, his catch rate, yards-per-target percentage, and success rate have all drastically decreased.

Why then do we still believe in Burks? Although he did remain in good health during his three years as a regular at Arkansas, it’s probable that he hasn’t had luck the past few years. The law of averages should eventually work in his favor, while Tennessee’s inconsistent quarterback play is currently a drawback.

Watch for the young wide out to make significant progress as Burks gets healthier and the Titans give rookie quarterback Will Levis more playing time.

Panthers Carolina OT Ikem Ekwonu

Ikem Ekwonu, an offensive tackle with the Panthers, has been fined an absurd eighteen times in his one and a half seasons in the NFL.

The 2022 No. 6 pick, according to Pro Football Focus, was in charge of six sacks in his rookie season and has already racked up seven (tied for third-highest total at his position) in his second year.

It’s just plain ugly.

However, we don’t think the 23-year-old is a bust just yet, in part because it seems like he and Young are going through similar growing pains.
Life on his line has not been made simple by Young, and vice versa. Although the Panthers’ offense features several seasoned veterans with expertise, the line has historically been a significant vulnerability. No one is encouraging each other, and the offensive-minded head coach has left.

In his pre-NFL scouting report, Brandon Thorn of the B/R NFL Scouting Department said that Ekwonu “will need to learn to harness his aggressive nature and play with better precision before reaching his full potential at tackle.” It’s reasonable to state that hasn’t occurred yet. However, the report also states that “he has the white-hot motor and A+ physical traits to appeal to coaches and scouts at multiple positions.” In any scheme, he is adaptable enough to be a consistent impact starter at guard or tackle.”

Watch for something to occur in spite of these early-career setbacks in a difficult situation.

The Raiders Edge of Las Vegas Wilson Tyree

Tyree Wilson, the seventh overall pick this year, has only managed three quarterback hits and 1.5 sacks in his first twelve games in the NFL with the Las Vegas Raiders.


Furthermore, out of 558 defensive players that have played in at least 20% of his team’s snaps, the 23-year-old’s PFF grade comes in at 537th place.


That must be extremely disheartening, but Wilson is a versatile and adaptive player. The Raiders may still be searching for the moment when he will genuinely find his NFL stride, and it seems like they are aware of this.They’re already thinking about rearranging the Texas Tech product.Wilson’s extraordinary talent and adaptability do not guarantee that he will become a superstar, but it is far too soon to draw that conclusion.

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