The narrative surrounding C.J. Stroud during the 2023 NFL Draft process was exhausting. Seemingly out of nowhere, rumors concerning his personality and talent began circulating. Sure, draft smokescreens are nothing new — it happens every cycle — but some of the remarks bordered on slander. Thankfully, the Houston Texans saw through the haze, selecting Stroud as the face of the franchise going forward.
C.J. Stroud Is Proving What Many Already Knew — He Is “That” Guy
Scouts cited Stroud’s leadership ability — or lack thereof — as a reason he couldn’t lead an NFL franchise. What’s weird is, if you ask anyone who has ever been around Stroud, exactly zero of them would back that claim up. By all accounts, the Ohio State alum is a born leader. I mean, how do you get to be QB1 for the Buckeyes otherwise?
Another lazy analysis was the fact Stroud played at Ohio State. “Helmet scouting” is something that should never come into play, especially when evaluating quarterbacks. It doesn’t matter if Troy Smith failed to be a star in the mid-2000s; C.J. Stroud is a completely different story.
Although the negativity around Stroud gained steam heading into the 2023 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans wisely ignored the fabricated storylines pedaled by the media. The front office tabbed Stroud as the face of their offensive rebuild — and boy has he lived up to that billing.
At No. 2 overall, the Texans got the last laugh. Since acquiring Stroud, reports out of Houston have been overwhelmingly positive. The talk around the franchise all offseason was that they found a guy. And so far in the 2023 campaign, Stroud has proven that statement to be true.
Offensive Rookie Of The Year? The Texans QB Is In The Driver’s Seat
The Buckeye alum has nine touchdowns to only one interception, with a healthy 1,660 passing yards through six games. His 59.6 completion percentage could be better; but all in all, Stroud has his Texans sitting at 3-3 on the year. Depending on where you looked before the season, some analysts had Houston winning three games for the entire campaign.
I, myself, expected the Texans to be bottom dwellers in 2023. And I was higher on Stroud than most (No. 4 overall on my big board). To have the success he has witnessed as a rookie is nothing short of remarkable.
Nico Collins has blossomed into a quality receiver, with Stroud throwing the ball his way early and often. The same can be said about the fireball rookie Tank Dell and steady veteran Robert Woods. Tight end Dalton Schultz also provides more support in the passing game.
Head coach DeMeco Ryans has full control of the locker room, as the youngsters are rallying around their first-year leader. But at the end of the day, C.J. Stroud is the reason this engine goes.
Davis Mills isn’t winning these football games, nor would a veteran like Jacoby Brissett or Carson Wentz — not behind an injury-riddled offensive line. But Stroud is, and will continue, to lead his squad to victory. He gives Texans fans something they haven’t had in a while — hope. As long as he is behind center, Houston can win on any given Sunday.
C.J. Stroud would receive my Offensive Rookie of the Year vote if I had one. He is clearly the best, most impactful rookie in the NFL so far in 2023. And as the “ball knowers” expected, this is merely the beginning of the Stroud era. If you hurry up, there are still a few seats available on the bandwagon.