CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Hundreds of Carolina Panthers fans gathered outside Bank of America Stadium Friday to get their first glance at No. 1 overall draft pick Bryce Young.
Young arrived at a sea of hyped Panthers fans who high-fived him, took selfies and got autographs from the team's next franchise quarterback. He even banged the team's signature "Keep Pounding" drum to a thunderous cheer.
During his introductory news conference, Young said the fan support was surreal, telling reporters it felt great to experience so much love on his first day in Charlotte.
"To be able to see the support this organization has for me, being new here and a new member of the team, to get that kind of support from Panthers nation speaks volumes," Young said. "It was really surreal, I'm super grateful for all the fans who came out today, all the fans who came out yesterday, all the people who supported from wherever it is they supported from, it means the world to me."
Carolina drafted Young No. 1 overall in Thursday's NFL Draft, making him the first Alabama quarterback to be taken first in school history. He was selected by the team over fellow first-round quarterbacks C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson. Speaking of Stroud, Young said the Ohio State star has been one of his best friends since they were making names for themselves as high schoolers.
"That's my brother. I've known him since middle school," Young said. "It was really cool throughout this process to have someone who I was going through it with. It was a big night for both of us, for everyone who was able to realize their dreams and accomplish that goal. For us to be in the same building on that night was super special."
Young later said he's unsure what jersey number he'll wear with the Panthers. He wore 9 at Alabama, which is currently held by second-year quarterback Matt Corral.
Carolina Panthers fans welcome Bryce Young's
Young told WCNC Charlotte's Nick Carboni he felt a whirlwind of emotions when he saw a Charlotte number on his phone just minutes before the draft. And while he's excited to be the team's next quarterback, Young doesn't want to be known for only being a top pick.
"I'm drafted to do a job," he said. "I want to do everything that the organization asks of me."
Young entered the NFL after two seasons as Alabama's starting quarterback. He led the Crime Tide to the College Football Playoff in his first season and won the Heisman Trophy.
For Panthers season ticker holders like Nathan Parmenter, there seems to be a high level of optimism.
"I think we drafted a really good person, with character, that can lead this team in the future," Parmenter said Friday ."I feel like we have an opportunity to win the division right out of the gate with him."
NFL analysts say Young’s strengths are his calm demeanor, full-field reads, focus in big fourth-quarter situations, and his ability to avoid the rush. Conversely, his weaknesses are his smaller frame and lack of strength in deep throws, according to analysts. Scouts have compared him to Drew Brees.
Despite concerns over his size, NFL scouts looked at Young as the top choice in the weeks and months leading up to the draft.
WCNC Charlotte's Nick Carboni, Ashley Stroehlein, Richard DeVayne, and Lexi Wilson contributed to this report
Locked On is the leading podcast network for local sports and is owned by WCNC Charlotte's parent company TEGNA.
Listen to Locked On here.
All of WCNC Charlotte's podcasts are free and available for both streaming and download. You can listen now on Android, iPhone, Amazon, and other internet-connected devices. Join us from North Carolina, South Carolina, or on the go anywhere.