Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback CJ Stroud is one of the top prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft class. Unlike a few other quarterback prospects, Stroud comes with a polished skill set leaving few questions for NFL Draft analysts.
Yet, he’s still not viewed as the top prospect at his position, with that honor going to Alabama’s Bryce Young instead. It’s a bit incredulous to think a player who many view as the top pure passer in his draft class isn’t also the top-ranked player. But the gap between the two may not be very large.
Related: 2023 NFL Draft order, picks by team
As we know, just because Stroud is viewed as a top prospect, it doesn’t mean he’s a sure thing. Scouts do still have some questions about his ability to play at the highest level. There’s a lot of fascination surrounding top quarterback prospects leading up to every draft, and this year is no different.
Our CJ Stroud NFL Draft profile examines his resumé, scouting report, and measurables while also projecting his future.
CJ Stroud measurements
- CJ Stroud height: 6-foot-3
- CJ Stroud weight: 214 pounds
- CJ Stroud hand size: 10 inches
Let’s dive into Sportsnaut’s C.J. Stroud draft profile.
CJ Stroud stats and background
Stroud was a bit of a rising star throughout high school, where he began as a three-star prospect before earning a fourth-star as the third-highest-ranked QB prospect prior to his commitment to Ohio State.
Yet, even once Stroud arrived on campus, he had to bide his time, waiting, watching, and learning behind current Chicago Bears star Justin Fields. He then was named the starter in his redshirt-freshman year, winning a competition between him and three others, including Texas’ Quinn Ewers.
It didn’t take Stroud long to become a full-fledged star for the Buckeyes, where he’d become a finalist to win the Davey O’Brien Award, given to the nation’s top quarterback.
|CJ Stroud stats||QB Rating||TD – INT||TD % – INT %||Completion %||PFF Grade|
|2021||186.6||44 – 6||9.9% – 1.3%||71.9%||92.2|
|2022||177.7||41 – 6||10.5% – 1.5%||66.3%||88.9|
Stroud outproduced Fields’ numbers at Ohio State, operating from the pocket while putting on a dazzling passing display. He shined when targeting receivers downfield, where he posted a ridiculous 94.2 deep passing grade per PFF. But it wasn’t all long bombs.
He was also excellent in short areas of the field, connecting on 77% of his passes. Stroud seemed to be at his best when running non-play-action designs, where he had a 20-4 TD-INT ratio. But one knock on Stroud is his ability to operate from a messy pocket with defenders closing in.
- CJ Stroud stats vs pressure (2022): 5-2 TD-INT, 72.7 QB rating, 5.7 YPA
- CJ Stroud vs clean pocket (’22): 32-4 TD-INT, 134.7 QB rating, 10.2 YPA
While this is a similar sentiment for many quarterbacks, as no one likes pressure in their face, how Stroud handles adversity at the next level will be work keeping a close eye on.
Related: NFL Draft 2023: Exec says CJ Stroud has skills similar to 2022 MVP finalist
Production-wise, there is very little not to like about Stroud. Many will suggest he benefited from having one of the nation’s top receiving corps at his disposal, with playmakers like Marvin Harrison Jr., Emeka Egbuka, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba. But Stroud was still delivering the ball on time and with accuracy. His tape speaks for itself.
Statistics courtesy of College Football Reference, ESPN and Pro Football Focus
Scouting Ohio State Buckeyes QB CJ Stroud
Our CJ Stroud scouting report begins with the pluses. He has all the traits NFL scouts drool over, from the pro-ready size, big arm, and even a strong developmental program at Ohio State having access to top-notch facilities.
As mentioned, there isn’t a better pure passer in the 2023 NFL Draft class than Stroud. Most years, that alone merits the No. 1 overall pick, but this is a good year to have a top draft pick for QB-needy teams.
Scouts likely appreciate that Stroud got to play in a pro-style offense which was the perfect fit for his pass-first skillset. In fact, many would argue Stroud doesn’t use his above-average athleticism nearly enough. He took off just 47 times in his final season, finishing with just 108 yards on the ground, but he has no trouble escaping the pocket, he just prefers to give his receivers opportunities. While that could be a knock, his playmakers absolutely love it.
As you can see, athleticism is not a question when it comes to evaluating Stroud’s skills.
Unlike some other recent Ohio State QB prospects, Stroud does not struggle to make accurate throws. He often puts the pigskin right where it should be, where only his receivers can make a play on the ball, while also allowing for more yards after the catch. This is a QB who ‘gets it.’
Finding a more complete, pro-ready prospect who truly has it all is tough to do. Stroud has the size, strength, accuracy, anticipation, and the ability to flee the pocket. No prospect is perfect, they all have flaws and areas to work on. For Stroud, it’s continuing to get more comfortable throwing strikes when defenders are gunning for his head, but compared to having a noodle arm, being too short to see passing lanes, or not being able to escape defenders, most will take Stroud’s perceived weaknesses and sprint to the draft podium.
- CJ Stroud draft grade: 87/100
- CJ Stroud draft projection: Top 3 pick
It’s not like Stroud got to this point by feasting on lower-level competition. Once he was tasked with taking on the otherworldly, near NFL-level Georgia defense, you could argue he put forth the best game of his career, showing he is ready for whatever the National Football League throws at him.
Projecting CJ Stroud’s NFL career
One factor that is often overlooked is the NFL team and scheme fit. Trevor Lawrence‘s rookie season compared to his sophomore year with the Jacksonville Jaguars should be enough evidence to back up this claim.
Teams picking at the top of the draft earned that spot for a reason. They’re not exactly playoff contenders. Yet, sometimes a franchise is so bad because they can’t even get average production out of their quarterback.
You could have a playmaking receiving corps who can routinely create separation, but if they are overthrown or the QB doesn’t have time to execute the pass, receivers can get frustrated in a flash. Stroud can solve both of these issues, either with his impressive accuracy or by using his legs hopefully more often than he did in college.
Yet, facing an NFL pass rush as opposed to Toledo, who is more likely to have players working at Walmart than reach the pros, should solve concerns about Stroud being too pass-happy, if there is such a thing.
From a passing perspective, we expect Stroud to have some immediate success at the next level, where he’s expected to be a Day 1 starter. Maybe a team skeptical about his ability to deliver from the pocket will pool even more resources into ensuring he has at least an above-average offensive line, hoping he can work around it, to begin with, much like Cincinnati did with Joe Burrow at first.
Related: 2023 NFL power rankings
If Stroud lands with the Colts, it could be a while before he takes over the league. They don’t have an alpha receiver who can help take over the game, but perhaps their offensive line can quickly improve with Quenton Nelson returning to health along with continued improvement from Bernhard Raimann.
Other situations, like the Raiders, could be far more appealing. While Stroud doesn’t get to pick, he’d then be able to launch deep balls to Davante Adams and Darren Waller while also dumping off short passes across the field to Hunter Renfrow. While they too could benefit from investing in the trenches, that’s, unfortunately, a similar case for many NFL teams, especially ones that earn a top pick.
The moral of the story with Stroud is, if you’re a team picking in the top ten, there’s little reason why you should be afraid to select one of the top quarterback prospects in recent times. Even if it takes a trade up to land your face of the franchise, with Stroud, it may be worth it.