CJ Stroud is entering the 2023 NFL Draft after two seasons as the starting quarterback for Ohio State. How early will the Buckeye signal-caller come off the board? Let’s peel back the layers in a scouting report to find our answer.
Name: CJ Stroud
School: Ohio State
Age: 21 (Oct. 3, 2001)
Weight: 218 pounds*
CJ Stroud 2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report
CJ Stroud grew up in California and attended the prestigious Rancho Cucamonga High School. The five-star recruit fielded offers from virtually every college program in the country but ultimately decided to take his talents to Columbus, Ohio.
Stroud took a redshirt as a freshman, with Justin Fields entrenched as QB1 for the Buckeyes in 2020. Following the departure of Fields, Stroud was handed the keys to the car for the next couple of seasons.
While some fans will remember him as the quarterback who never beat Michigan, Stroud put together an illustrious career for Ohio State. He finished as a Heisman finalist in both seasons as a starter, along with two first-team All-Big Ten selections.
Furthermore, Stroud ranks in the top three of most career passing statistics in program history. He was a team captain with OSU, heading the locker room in a lead-by-example manner.
The talented signal-caller is in line to go early on day one of the 2023 NFL Draft. Let’s dig into a detailed scouting report to see how Stroud projects to the NFL.
•Anticipation – Stroud’s best trait is his anticipation on throws. The Buckeye quarterback regularly threw his receivers open by releasing the ball before they even came out of the route. This is a trait that you either have or you don’t, and Stroud has it in spades.
•Accuracy – Stroud is a precision passer capable of fitting tight windows. On short-to-intermediate routes, Stroud puts the ball on his receiver’s hip as they come out of the break and gives his players a chance to create after the catch. His timing and touch on the deep ball are impeccable.
•Ball Placement – This goes hand-in-hand with anticipation and accuracy, but Stroud’s ability to put the ball in a place where only his receiver can catch it is special. The OSU star’s most impressive throws come when his receivers work toward the sideline; it gives Stroud a chance to flex his elite placement.
•Arm Talent – Stroud doesn’t have the most powerful arm in the world, but he has more than enough juice to make any NFL throw he is asked to make. Play callers can throw the book at Stroud early in his career.
•Experience/Leadership – Stroud is known as a passionate leader in the locker room. Although soft-spoken in interviews, the team feeds off of his play. Serving as the full-time starter in 2021 and 2022 gives Stroud plenty of experience and high-caliber tape for NFL teams to salivate over.
•High IQ/Processing – Ohio State quarterbacks get unfairly knocked when it comes to progressions. Stroud routinely got to his second, third, and fourth read with the Buckeyes. He can be a tad late on occasion, but more times than not, he quickly processes what the defense is throwing at him. With NFL coaching, Stroud can become a truly elite processor behind center.
•Footwork Under Pressure – Stroud is the best quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft when given a clean pocket. But he is susceptible to getting ‘happy’ feet when facing pressure. Rather than resetting and forming a strong base, he continues falling back and can be found throwing off of his back foot too often.
•Improvisation – While Stroud is better at creating with his legs than most say, he is still a work in progress in this area. He shows the ability to hit throws on the run and to keep his eyes downfield, but there are examples of decreased accuracy and missed reads as Stroud is scrambling.
•Stacked Supporting Cast – Full disclosure, I have always thought this is a lousy knock for an NFL Draft prospect. That being said, Stroud has thrown to Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, Marvin Harrison Jr., and Jaxon Smith-Njigba in his Ohio State career. He has also been protected by the likes of Paris Johnson Jr., Luke Wypler, and Dawand Jones. Simply put, Stroud had more to work with in college than most quarterbacks do entering the draft. It is worth mentioning.
2023 NFL Draft Grade
•Top 10 (QB2 on my Big Board)
*Total Games Evaluated: 15*