DeMeco Ryans on Bryce Young’s size: ‘I don’t see it as an issue.’

Alabama quarterback has been listed at 5-foot-10, 204 pounds

Former Alabama football quarterback Bryce Young works in position drills at Alabama's NFL pro day, Thursday, March 23, 2023, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt) (Vasha Hunt, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

PHOENIX – Alabama star quarterback Bryce Young adeptly sidestepped questions about his lack of size in a manner akin to how he eluded pass rushers in the ultra-competive, physically demanding Southeastern Conference.

Although Young is extremely small at 5-foot-10, 204 pounds and perhaps lighter considering he played 10 pounds less as a Heisman Trophy winner for the Crimson Tide and declined to weigh in at his campus Pro Day, raising eyebrows about whether he just bulked up for the NFL scouting combine, Texans coach DeMeco Ryans downplayed any concerns about Young’s lack of stature and bulk.

“For Bryce, I know it’s a lot, going on to talk about his size,” Ryans said Monday morning at the NFL owners meetings at the Arizona Biltmore. “The guy has done it at the highest level in college football and size hasn’t seemed to be a problem. I don’t see it as an issue because you watch the tape, and you put on the tape, and you see the kid play, and you see how smart he is.

“You see the anticipation. You see the accuracy. You see how this guy is calm in critical moments. When you see those things, size isn’t one of the factors that pop up on tape that’s like, oh, man, it’s a problem. Again, you just look at the track record, see what he’s done in the SEC, highest level of college football he’s been successful, and I think he’ll be successful in the NFL, as well.”

The Texans are bringing in Young for a visit along with Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud, according to Ryans. They also have visits with Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson, Kentucky quarterback Will Levis and Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker, according to league sources.

Young passed for 80 touchdowns and a dozen interceptions the past two season while going 23-4 as a starter and being coached by Nick Saban and former Texans coach Bill O’Brien.

He’s regarded as extremely ready for the NFL in terms of polish, maturity and accuracy, but lacks a cannon for an arm.

The Carolina Panthers hold the first overall pick and are widely expected to pick Stroud after a trade with the Chicago Bears.

The Texans held discussions with the Bears, but didn’t come close to making the trade. They have the second overall and 12th overall picks of the draft.

“It’s something we can’t control,” Ryans said. “So when the Panthers moved up, we couldn’t control it. We’re still at two. At the end of the day, we have to pick where we are, and we’ll make the best pick for our organization when that time comes.”

If the Texans wound up with Stroud, that would be a good outcome. He’s a classic big pocket passer who has shown he can work off-script and throw on the run, too.

“Two good players, two good quality quarterbacks,” Ryans said. “We’ll see what happens in the draft.”

Texans assistant director of player personnel and director of college scouting James Liipfert attended both Pro Days for Young and Stroud along with national scout John Ritcher and scout Blaise Taggart.

Ryans and Texans general manager Nick Caserio didn’t attend the Pro Days.

“At the end of the day, they’re both productive players, and they’ve played in big games, and they’ve both shined in big games,” Liipfert said. “Regardless of position, you want to draft productive players, you want to draft good people, and those are guys, along with a lot of guys in this draft, who check a production box and are both good dudes. I’ve talked to both of them, and I would say they’re both good guys. I like both of them.”

Ryans said not attending their pro days wasn’t a slight against either player. The Texans trusted the people they had attending the pro days and plan to meet with the two quarterbacks during their top-30 visits soon.

The Texans also signed veteran quarterback Case Keenum in free agency. A former University of Houston standout on his third stint with the Texans, Keenum, 35, could provide a mentoring presence to a rookie.

“You can have your coaches who can coach you up, but it’s also different when you can have a player who has actually done it,” Ryans said. “And a player can say some things that may be a little bit different than what the coaches said. It helps players develop a little quicker.”

What does Ryans look for in a quarterback?

That starts with intangibles.

He’s seeking a leader.

Yes, Ryans has called Young a leader.

“For a quarterback, I think the most important attribute I look for, it’s that how is his leadership style?” Ryans said. “How are those other 10 guys looking? can they look at you in a huddle and know, we can count on this guy to make a play. We believe in you. Then you have to look across the ball, and it’s those other 11 guys, those defensive guys, can they look to that guy, and can they count on him?

“Is that quarterback a guy who can galvanize a locker room and rally the troops and get the guys to believe in him? That’s the trait. It’s easier said than done because only so few guys can do that, and it’s special guys, and that’s a special position. When you can find a guy that his teammates can rally behind him, teammates believe in him, that’s when you know you have a guy.”

The dynamic Alabama quarterback and former Heisman Trophy winner, facing some skepticism about his frame and durability, addressed the topics tactfully at the combine.

“I’ve been this size, respectfully, my whole life,” Young said. “I know who I am, I know what I can do. For me, it’s fair. Everyone can speculate and ask whatever questions are necessary. I’m going to control what I can control and I’m going to keep working my hardest to put myself in a good position. I’m confident in myself. I know what I can do. I’m excited to get to that next level.’

Young met formally with the Texas, as did Stroud, Levis and Richardson, at the combine.

“‘My meeting with the Texans was great,” Young said. “I was super happy to be in that room. It’s an amazing staff and to be able to talk with them.”

Young passed for 321 yards and five touchdowns in his final game for Alabama in a Sugar Bowl victory over Kansas State. He’s ranked first overall among all players regardless by position by many draft analysts. He missed time with a sprained AC joint in his right throwing shoulder last season.

“To be honest, I don’t really know too much about what’s said about me,” Young said. “I’m grateful for everyone’s opinion I respect everyone’s opinion, but I focus on what I can control. I take the advice and the direction of the people that I trust.

“My drive isn’t necessarily to prove anything. I think for me it’s to try to explain all the things I see to all the coaches and decision makers and express myself and how I see the game. It’s a big learning experience. I speak my truth. I make sure I explain how I play the game, how I see the game.”

Young has talked with New England Patriots starting quarterback Mac Jones about the draft process. Young backed up Jones before replacing him when Jones was drafted in the first round.

“For me, I really pride myself on my leadership,” Young said. “I know that’s something I have to earn at the next level. I’m really excited to try to earn that trust and respect from that locker room. I know that’s not something I’m entitled to.”

There’s a lot to like about the consensus QB1 of this NFL rookie quarterback draft class.

A consensus All-American, Young passed for 8,356 career yards.

The Texans are known to have a high opinion on Young in scouting reports. A potential lack of durability due to his relatively smaller frame is the only attribute teams see lacking in Young.

“I know Bryce is an outstanding leader from what I’ve seen, and is an outstanding quarterback,” Ryans said. “It’s no surprise the success that he’s had. Just because of the makeup, the type of guy that he is, it’s no surprise the success he’s had. Wishing him the best moving forward.”

Young was teammates with Texans wide receiver John Metchie III and linebacker Christian Harris at Alabama. The prospect of reuniting with him is intriguing, but it’s not something he’s counting on necessarily.

“Obviously I love Metch, love C-Harris, but, for me, where I end up is something I can’t control,” Young said. “I’m going to give my all to whatever team that takes me. I’m just super excited to be here. It’s my dream to play in the NFLand to be able to be here whatever team I’m able to be taken by is a blessing.”

Aaron Wilson is a Texans and NFL reporter for KPRC 2 and