Tennessee EDGE Byron Young plans to display his all-around capabilities at this week’s Senior Bowl. Young is a first-round draft hopeful with the tools and potential necessary to attach a jetpack to his pre-draft stock in Mobile.
Young understands that pass-rushing is an art. Young’s high-level understanding of rushing quarterbacks makes him the most intriguing defender at the Senior Bowl.
“I’m going to showcase my capabilities to rush the passer and stop the run at the Senior Bowl,” Young told The Draft Network.
Young exploded as a senior for the Volunteers in 2022. A former JUCO standout and Dollar General employee, Young recorded career-highs in sacks (7.0) and tackles for loss (12.0) this season. Young showcases outstanding athleticism and flexibility. Young hustles with the red-hot motor of a defender that’s struggled through the junior college experience. Young’s post-snap abilities are excellent, but it’s his pre-snap prowess that gives him the upper hand on opposing offensive tackles.
“I love looking at the offensive tackle’s stance pre-snap,” Young told TDN. “Taller guys have a difficult time bending down. Before the snap, I look how far his back foot is and whether or not it’s run or pass. I’ve already studied my opponent on film and identified his weaknesses. I remember this guy and he doesn’t move as well. I always try to take advantage of that.”
The No. 60 overall prospect in our latest TDN100 update, Young maximizes his impressive length and strings together counters as a pass rusher. The long-arm stab is often Young’s go-to counter underneath. As a run defender, Young competes on a snap-by-snap basis to maintain his fits.
Young doesn’t take snaps for granted. He understands every rep is an opportunity to create a game-changing play, whether it’s pass or run. Young’s preparation begins pre-snap after an extensive game tape review of his opponent. Wasted movements or useless steps aren’t featured throughout Young’s skill set.
“I try to make my first three steps as vertical as possible,” Young said. “My first two steps have to be big and vertical. Small and choppy steps are useless. Every down, I try to be halfway there [to the quarterback] by my first two steps. That’s what I aim for. I have to beat [the offensive tackle] to his spot. I try to take bigger steps. By my third step, I’ve identified his [pass] set and I have an idea regarding what I’m going to do.”
Young has been training alongside Auburn EDGE Derick Hall and a slew of others at EXOS in Pensacola, Florida. Young and Hall have been preparing to square off with several talented offensive tackles at the Senior Bowl. That list could include Syracuse’s Matthew Bergeron, Michigan’s Ryan Hayes, Shepherd’s Joey Fisher, and Maryland’s Jaelyn Duncan, to name a few. But it was fellow Senior Bowl attendee and teammate Darnell Wright that prepared Young for what’s to come.
“We competed every day,” Young said of his legendary practice battles against Wright. “We made each other better. I loved competing against [Wright] because he’s so athletic and fast. Wright knows my every move. He knew my every move so I had to develop new moves. I couldn’t keep doing the same stuff. Wright helped me develop my pass-rush arsenal. I gave him different looks as well. We made each other better every day.”
Young’s physical gifts and natural abilities ensure he thrives as a pass rusher, but it’s Young’s understanding of the “WHY” behind every movement and decision that serves as the legitimate difference-maker. Young’s pass-rushing reps in Mobile will draw a crowd. When the lights come on, Young will have already secured pre-snap advantages over Mobile’s gauntlet of offensive tackles.
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