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QB CJ Stroud: NFL Draft scouting report

We break down Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud with a scouting report heading into the 2023 NFL Draft.

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NFL Combine Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud was taken by the Houston Texans with the No. 2 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. There was a lot of smoke surrounding the team possibly going defense with this pick, but they have locked in on their franchise QB of the future. Both of Stroud’s seasons as a starter were respectively the second and third best passing seasons in Buckeye history.

After two impressive seasons at the helm of Ohio State’s offense, quarterback CJ Stroud is all set to get his shot at the pros. Expected to be one of the first players off the board in the 2023 NFL Draft, Stroud has all the makings of a franchise cornerstone.

In his first season as the Buckeye’s starting quarterback, 2021, Stroud threw for 4,424 yards and 44 touchdowns with just four picks. Naturally, he was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy that year. Last season, Stroud accumulated another 3,684 passing yards with 41 touchdowns, the country’s most efficient passer that year, and a Heisman finalist once again.

He’s the first quarterback in Big 10 history to throw more than 30 touchdowns in back-to-back seasons. But what most people will remember is his standout performance in this year’s semifinal playoff game against Georgia where he threw for 348 yards and four touchdowns.

CJ Stroud: Scouting Report

“One of the best throwing sessions I’ve seen at the Combine,” said NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah.

One of the first things you’ll notice about Stroud is his passing accuracy. Obviously, you don’t rack up more than 8,000 passing yards in two seasons of play by being a poor passer, but Stroud has the ability to make connections with his receivers all over the field. He did just fine with pass rushers coming at him too, and there’s plenty of room for improvement in how he can use his legs to keep plays alive when an opposing defense wrecks the initial plan.

One area for improvement, as Stroud embarks on his pro career, is taking a more complete reading of the field and the defense, things like recognizing safeties and not being forced to hurry through his progressions. He’s shown, at times, the ability to create plays with his feet, but he’ll need to be more consistent in creating outside the pocket.

Mock Draft landing spots

In a recent mock draft with Mel Kiper, Todd McShay mocked Stroud going to the Texans. He provided the following analysis:

“I really wouldn’t be surprised if Houston jumps at the chance to draft a dominant defender like Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr., but I’m making the pick here, and there’s no way I’m passing up one of the top two quarterbacks in the class with that glaring need. Stroud is extremely accurate and would give the Texans’ offense a franchise passer to build around.”

The Athletic had one final mock draft before the big event gets started on Thursday, April 27. Mike Jones also mocked Stroud to the Texans at No. 2 with the following reasoning:

“Despite reports of an extremely low S2 score, a number of NFL talent evaluators still hold Stroud in high regard, even keeping him atop their quarterback boards. Could the Texans elect to pass over the Ohio State product and client of David Mulugheta (the same agent who reps Deshaun Watson) and go with another position of need to kick off the DeMeco Ryans era? Certainly. But there are a lot of smokescreens this time of year, and the Texans do need a quarterback. And so they go with Stroud and fill a gaping hole in their franchise.”

Fantasy football implications

Stroud is likely to be a top-two quarterback selected in rookie drafts. Even if he is selected after Bryce Young or Will Levis, he arguably has more upside. Yes, it will depend on his landing spot. If Stroud ends up on a team like the Indianapolis Colts, he could play his way into the starting role. If he gets drafted by the Las Vegas Raiders, he could sit a year behind Jimmy Garoppolo before being handed the reins.

It is tough for rookie quarterbacks to find relevancy in redraft leagues. Almost no matter where he lands, I wouldn’t expect Stroud to be rostered in redraft leagues for the 2023 season. His main draw this season, from a fantasy football perspective, will likely only be in dynasty formats.