Alabama defensive tackle Byron Young is one of the most experienced prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft. Young has appeared in more than 50 career contests and won a National Championship with the Crimson Tide in 2020. Young is yet another impressive NFL talent from Alabama.
Young recently spoke exclusively with The Draft Network about how his vast experience will help him acclimate to the next level, using length to his advantage, his pass-rush arsenal, and more. Young is a plug-and-play defensive tackle.
JM: You appeared in more than 50 career games at Alabama. That’s a ton of big-game experience at the best program in the nation. How do you think that will help you acclimate to the NFL?
Byron Young: I think it’s already helped me make a smoother transition during this process. I feel like I know what it means to be prepared. I know what I need to do when it comes to preparing for a big game.
I’ve done it so many times. I’ve been taught by the best of the best, both from a coaching and teammates’ perspective. I feel like Alabama gave me a jump on everybody else, especially prospects who haven’t played as much football as I have.
It helped me learn the game at the highest level. I always understand everything that is going on around me. It goes way beyond understanding how to play my position.
JM: What will forever be your biggest takeaway from that 2020 National Championship team? You were a young guy that contributed as a rotational defender.
Byron Young: I’ll always remember what we fought through as a team. We had to fight through a lot of adversity that year. It showed me what a group of people can achieve when they come together and fight toward one common goal.
That was the COVID year. Everybody had different opinions. Nobody even knew if we were going to be playing football or not. As a team, we decided to come together. We practiced like everything was normal. We did that without knowing if we were going to have a season or not.
For me, it really showed me what a team could do when everybody is on the same page. That’s how I want it to be at the NFL level as well. I want to share that bond with my teammates. It’s special when everybody buys in. That’s a big thing in college and I expect it to be a big thing in the NFL as well.
JM: That’s an excellent point. You’re ready for the NFL. You have incredible length at 34 ⅜” inches. How do you use length to your advantage?
Byron Young: I just try to play with leverage and extension. That’s something that [defensive line] coach [Freddie] Roach always taught me and every other defensive lineman throughout our careers at Alabama.
I always try to use that length to gain the upper hand on my opponent. I’ve seen the advantage it gives me. If I can take advantage of my natural abilities, I’m always going to make the most of those opportunities. I’ve practiced it. I take a lot of pride in maximizing my length. I play with terrific length and leverage.
JM: We saw it on tape time and time again. You did an excellent job defending the run at Alabama. You maintain gap integrity and shoot your 11-inch hands. What do you enjoy about defending the run?
Byron Young: Stopping the run is my favorite thing to do. That’s how we started every practice at Alabama. We started by stopping the run. That became my forte throughout the years. I became known for it. I’ve been stopping the run since high school.
Playing against the run is one area where I was quickly able to earn the trust of my coaches at Alabama. I became really good at it. I’m extremely confident. I’ve grown to love stopping the run. I’m really proud of how I stop the run at this point in time.
JM: Talk to me about your pass-rush arsenal. Do you feel like it’s being underrated?
Byron Young: I do feel like it’s being underrated. It goes back to stopping the run. That was the main focus of our scheme. We didn’t really put me in positions to rush the passer. I didn’t have as many reps and opportunities to get after quarterbacks like some of the other interior defenders in this draft.
I started getting more of those opportunities later in the 2022 season. I was really able to show what I can do as a pass rusher. I think you’ll be seeing more of that [rushing the passer] from me at the next level. I’m going to become more consistent with every rep I get.
I really like the long-arm to a Fork-Lift. That’s probably my go-to move. That move led to a few sacks this past season. That’s probably my favorite move.
JM: Have you completed any Top 30 visits, private workouts, or Zoom meetings?
Byron Young: I went down to Jacksonville and had a Top 30 visit with the Jaguars. I’ve had a bunch of Zoom meetings as well. It’s tough to recall. I’ve probably met with more than half the league. I can’t rattle off all of the names off the top of my head.
JM: There’s a lot of interest in you and it’s easy to see why. We’ve appreciated your time today. What kind of impact is Byron Young going to make at the next level?
Byron Young: Whichever team drafts me is going to get a winner. They’re going to get a person that can develop into a leader in the locker room. I’m a player that can contribute to a positive culture, a winning culture.
Whether I’m joining a great culture or one that requires further building, I’m going to leave a positive impact on the culture. That’s something I really think I can contribute to.
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