The Carolina Panthers gave away significant assets when they traded up to the top spot in the NFL Draft to select quarterback Bryce Young.
The Houston Texans then drafted quarterback C.J. Stroud at No. 2.
Stroud has gotten off to an impressive start, throwing for nine touchdowns against just one interception over the first six games of his NFL career. Young has mostly struggled, and the Panthers are still searching for their first win of the season.
Stroud’s strong play early on has some questioning whether the Panthers drafted the right quarterback. But Carolina’s first-year coach expressed confidence in Young.
“We got the guy that we wanted to get,” Reich said. “We couldn’t be happier about that, in every way. I am happy for C.J. He’s had six good games, and I have no doubt he will have many more good games. But I know this: When it comes to evaluating quarterbacks or any other position, it is (about) years, not weeks.”
The Texans will travel to Charlotte this weekend for a matchup against Young and the Panthers. Although both quarterbacks have navigated their respective roster limitations, Young has been under a considerable amount of pressure. The 22-year-old has been sacked 16 times in five games behind an injury-plagued offensive line.
The former Alabama standout has thrown for 967 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions.
Still, the slow start for Young hasn’t changed Reich’s view of him as the top prospect coming out of college, something he’s believed since taking over the Panthers in January.
“My eyes and our eyes were on Bryce Young from start to finish,” Reich said.
Texans general manager Nick Caserio praised Stroud for playing to his strengths.
“I think sometimes people get caught up in they have to do something or try something different,” Caserio said. “If you do certain things a certain way in practice, how they’re coached and the technique, then you get in the game and do something different, I mean, you have to ask yourself, like why would you do that?
“There’s no magic formula. There’s no magic fairy dust that anybody is going to sprinkle on anybody. Show up, do your job, have the right mindset, have a good attitude, go out there.”
Reich is still optimistic the Panthers will turn things around and insists the tough start will only drive Young to be better.
“I’m sure he’s never experienced anything like an 0-6 start,” Reich said. “But the way he’s handled that — the resolve and the determination you can see in his eyes and you can feel in his demeanor — is the way you would expect someone with his toughness and competitiveness to handle it.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.