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C.J. Stroud: Fellow first-round QB Bryce Young dealt with issues 'out of his control' in Year 1 with Panthers

If there's one person who can appreciate how tough it is being a rookie quarterback in the NFL, it's C.J. Stroud.

Yes, the Texans quarterback was named a Rookie of the Year finalist following his brilliant first season in Houston, leading the franchise to a playoff victory after the Texans had won a combined 11 games the three prior seasons. But Stroud also had some humbling moments as a rookie, which is why he understands the context of what the one player drafted ahead of him had to endure last season.

No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young struggled through a trying first season with the Carolina Panthers, who finished with the league's worst record at 2-15. Young started 16 of those games, throwing for 2,877 yards, 11 TDs and 10 interceptions and fumbling 11 times. The team used multiple play callers and fired head coach Frank Reich only 11 games into his tenure there.

Stroud believes Young was put in a bad spot as a rookie, given the state of the offense that was around him, and that blame for his lack of first-year success lies elsewhere.

"In his shoes, I feel a lot of stuff didn't go his way that was out of his control," Stroud told The Pivot podcast. "You know, like, you can't make a play if someone didn't make a block. You can't make a play if someone (doesn't) catch the ball.

"When you watch the tape, Bryce did a lot of great things, you know what I'm saying? He's gonna be a great player, but it takes time."

One of those great things was beating Stroud's Texans head to head, 15-13, in Week 8. Young even out-passed Stroud in that game, with 235 yards and a touchdown to Stroud's 140 yards and zero TD passes.

In the big picture, Stroud said he believed his Texans were better set up for success in his first season than the Panthers were in Young's rookie year.

"I came into a situation where we were struggling, I know, but we still had a lot of great pieces," Stroud said. "Nick Caserio, our GM, brought in a lot of good vets. DeMeco (Ryans) was the perfect coach for our type of team."

Stroud's message to Young, which he said he delivered personally to the Panthers QB, was to not look at himself differently just because last season didn't go as planned. They might be competitors on the field, but Stroud did his best to pump up his fellow draft mate.

"Everyone's path is different," Stroud said. "Maybe I had a good rookie year, and Bryce is going to have a great second year. Hopefully, I'll do (that) too.

"But I told him, like, 'You the one, bro. You the one for a reason.' … And he's not going to, but (I told him), 'don't ever look at yourself different, bro.'"

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