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2023 NFL Draft Prospect Scouting Report: CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State University

CJ Stroud is one of the best quarterbacks in the 2023 NFL Draft. The Ohio State quarterback is a star in the making.
CJ Stroud is one of the best quarterbacks in the 2023 NFL Draft. The Ohio State quarterback is a star in the making.

CJ Stroud holds many Ohio State records, including the most passing yards in a single game with 573, as well as being the first player in program history to throw for six touchdowns three times. 

CJ Stroud was a two year starter at Ohio State and lead their offenses at a high efficiency. He was amongst college football’s best players over those two years as he was a Heisman Trophy and Davey O’Brien Award finalist for the Buckeyes in 2021 and 2022.

Many analysts believe that Stroud’s game will translate nicely to the NFL. We break down why that is the case below.

Fanfield.io

This scouting report is also available in a video format here. I strongly encourage everyone to watch that video as it allows you to visualize everything I discuss in this scouting report.

Overview

Birthdate: 10/3/2001 (21.3)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-3, 215 pounds

High School: Rancho Cucamonga (Rancho Cucamonga, CA)

Recruit (247): 2020 class-No. 42 Natl No. 2 Pro QB

2022 Stats: 257/390- 65.9% 3,684 Yards 41 TD 6 INT

2022 PFF: 88.9

2021 Stats: 317/443- 71.6% 4,424 Yards 44 TD 6 INT

2021 PFF: 92.2

Strengths

  • Accuracy
    • Ball Placement
      • Elite, best in this class and biggest selling of his game
      • Consistently places passes where only his WR can make play on the ball
      • 2021: 79.0 Adj. comp % – third best of any QB with at least 370 drop backs
        • Especially impressive considering he threw downfield quite a bit
    • Accurate to all levels of field
      • 2021: – Deep (20+ yards): 32/62- 56.5 adj comp %, Med (10-19 yards): 78/121- 71.1 adj comp %, Short (0-9 yards): 145/180- 85.0 adj comp %, Behind LOS 62/65- 98.5 adj comp %
  • His 2022 numbers dropped off some, but were still good, also played in extreme winds against Northwestern, which secured his accuracy numbers a bit
  • Timing/Anticipation/Smarts
    • Anticipation
      • Does a good job of knowing where his receivers are going to be and delivering the pass on time
      • Big selling point to his game, does this as well or better than any other QB in this class
      • Looks like he knows what every player on the field is thinking at times
    • IQ
      • Reads defenses and sees the field very well
      • Operating the OSU offense is easier than most due to surrounding talent, but he did it at a high efficiency for two seasons- which says a lot
      • Not perfect, but does a good job of avoiding bad decisions
      • Just 12 interceptions in two seasons
      • Someone that I would be confident in stepping into an NFL team and in the right situation be playing at a good level by the end of his rookie year
  • Poise in Pocket
    • Avoids sacks
      • Not someone who you’re accustomed to extending plays and creating outside of structure but he avoids pressure very well
      • Was sacked just 26 times in 25 games in OSU career
        • O-line is very good, but that also says a lot about his ability to avoid negative plays
    • Against the blitz
      • Rarely, if ever does he try to be superman and attempt to make a big play when there isn’t one there
      • Consistently find the open man quickly before having to navigate pressure
        • 2022 When Blitzed: 94/143 for 1,386 yards 19 TD 1 INT- 78.1 PFF Gr
      • Does a solid job of navigating the pocket to find throwing lanes when necessary
        • 2021: 10.8 P2S% (Was pressured 118 times and sacked 12 times)- third best of any QB with at least 370 dropbacks
        • 2022: 14.1 P2S% (Was pressured 99 times and sacked 14 times)

Weaknesses

  • Out of Structure Ability doesn’t show up consistently
    • Running Ability
      • One of the biggest criticisms of Stroud is his unwillingness to run
      • There were numerous times over the past two seasons where he seemingly did everything possible to avoid running as opposed to taking right when he sees green grass ahead of him
      • He’s not a great athlete by any stretch of the imagination, but he does move well enough to run when he needs to pick up yards, the question is if he’ll be willing to in the NFL?
    • Creating as a Scrambler
      • Looking at the elite QBs in the NFL the majority of them can make plays outside of structure
      • While Stroud was able to operate OSU’s offense at a high level the last two seasons, he didn’t consistently make plays outside of the structure of the offense
      • This puts a bit of a cap on Stroud’s ceiling
    • UGA Game
      • Stroud not only had a great performance against a great defense, but he showed an ability as a scrambler and as a runner
      • Showing he’s capable of creating out of structure and as a runner in a big game changes his evaluation a bit
      • The question will be if what he showd against UGA will show up consistently in the NFL?
  • Loaded Supporting Cast at OSU
    • Translation to the NFL
      • One of the big talking points around Stroud is that he’s an Ohio State QB who have a history of not translating well to the NFL
      • While I don’t believe in helmet scouting there is something to be said about QBs going from great situations to not-so-good situations in the NFL
      • In his time at OSU he’s had loads of talent at WR, to go along with a very good pass protecting 0-line
      • It’s a pretty safe bet that his supporting cast will be much worse in the NFL, so it begs the question how that will effect his translation to the NFL?

CJ Stroud QB Ohio State- Final Evaluation

Position Rank: QB2

Projection: Top 3 Pick

Bryce Young slightly beats CJ Stroud out as QB1 in this class. Stroud is still a very good quarterback prospect however

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