NFL, Read

NFL Draft Profile: CJ Stroud

School: Ohio State

Position: QB

Year: Redshirt Sophomore

The Good: CJ Stroud is awesome, and there is a ton of proof in the tape despite him only turning 21 this past October. He made 24 starts in his Ohio State tenure, and in every one of them he’ll make at least one throw that wows you. Stroud throws with such impressive drive and can fit a pass into any window and drop a dime to anywhere on the field. He’s not a one-trick pony with a laser beam for a right arm either; Stroud is deadly accurate, can throw with finesse, and almost always gives his receivers a high-percentage chance to come down with the ball. I was blown away by Stroud’s poise and control of his offense. He does not fit the bill of recent Ohio State QBs whatsoever. While JT Barrett, Dwayne Haskins, and Justin Fields could attribute much statistical success to the OSU wideouts and Ryan Day’s scheme, Stroud is a smooth operator on his own. He’s calling out signals pre-snap and usually makes an accurate read on the defense before the play, and he’s fully capable of making adjustments on the fly too. Stroud knows how to use his eyes as a weapon and consistently throws with anticipation. I loved to see jumps in his game from 2021 to 2022. Pocket movement and active feet were immediate strengths for Stroud, but as a sophomore he added further mobility to his game by way of evading pressure and picking up first downs with his legs. He started to show more common flashes of creativity too. Stroud is the best passing prospect to hit the NFL Draft since Trevor Lawrence.

The Bad: He’s not particularly fast. Besides that, I don’t have much. Otherwise, I’d say that his top flaw at this point is trouble with disguised coverage and overcommitment to pre-snap reads, but honestly that’s the case for some of the NFL’s best QBs and generally gets better with reps. It’s important not to forget that Stroud is extremely young. I jotted down a few cons from his freshman tape: his motion was prolonged and his release was too pronounced, which both contributed to some misses. But then he mostly cleaned up his technique as a sophomore. Stroud was pretty purely a pocket passer during his freshman season but then, while that does remain his strength, Stroud started making plays outside of the pocket during this most recent season. Sometimes he’s a bit robotic in his decision making, but damn…I’m nitpicking at this point.

The Bottom Line: Clearly, I’m high on CJ Stroud. He has tremendous arm talent, good size, and seems to be a sharp kid and admirable leader. To wrap it up, I want to push back against two narratives. 1) Stroud was fortunate to become the starter at OSU with Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Jeremy Ruckert, and Nicholas Petit-Frere in his supporting cast. And then 4 of those 5 were drafted, and Smith-Njigba was injured for most of the season…and we’re not supposed to care? Marvin Harrison Jr. is amazing, I know. But Stroud was essentially the lone year-over-year holdover in that offense and didn’t miss a beat. 2) Is this praise an overreaction to the Peach Bowl against Georgia, where Stroud almost single-handedly took down a budding dynasty? No…I had this extremely high grade on him before concluding his evaluation with that game. If it did boost his stock, it went from a Top 5 pick to a Top 1 pick.

Grade: Top 5 Pick

Pro Comp: Justin Herbert

Games Watched:

  • Oregon 2021
  • Maryland 2021
  • Penn State 2021
  • Nebraska 2021
  • Michigan State 2021
  • Michigan 2021
  • Utah 2021 (Rose Bowl)
  • Notre Dame 2022
  • Wisconsin 2022
  • Penn State 2022
  • Maryland 2022
  • Michigan 2022
  • Georgia 2022 (Peach Bowl)

Plays That Matter (2021-22) [LINK]

Plays That Matter (2022-23) [LINK]

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