Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud entered the pre-draft process viewed as one of the best 2023 NFL Draft prospects. With draft day approaching, recent NFL Draft rumors seem to suggest he could be in for a slide on April 27.
Stroud, standing at 6-foot-3, put on a strong performance at the NFL Combine. He made a strong impression on NFL coaches and scouts, with a passing clinic that was viewed as one of the best among all quarterback prospects in recent years.
- C.J. Stroud stats (career): 8,123 passing yards, 85-12 TD-INT, 182.4 QB rating
After the Carolina Panthers trade up for the first pick, Stroud became the favorite to be selected No. 1 overall. Even when it became clear that Carolina plans to draft Bryce Young, Stroud was still projected to be picked second by the Houston Texans.
Related: C.J. Stroud scouting report
Now, with just days remaining until the 2023 NFL Draft, it appears increasingly likely that Stroud will fall. Former NFL quarterback Brady Quinn raised concerns about Stroud’s character and new anonymous disclosures from around the league add further uncertainty to his draft outlook.
Bob McGinn of Go Long revealed leaked S2 test scores for the 2023 quarterback class. According to McGinn’s sources in the NFL, Stroud scored in the 18th percentile in the electronic test used to measure a player’s processing ability, split-second decisions, anticipation, adaptability and other cognitive skills.
For context, Young posted one of the highest S2 scores in several years. Will Levis (93%), Jake Haener (96%), Jaren Hall (93%), Clayton Tune (84%) and Anthony Richardson (79%) all scored high marks on the S2 test.
One anonymous NFL executive McGinn spoke with cited Stroud’s S2 score and the fact he played at Ohio State as reasons why he believes the former Buckeyes’ star will be a draft bust.
“Stroud scored 18. That is like red alert, red alert, you can’t take a guy like that. That is why I have Stroud as a bust. That in conjunction with the fact, name one Ohio State quarterback that’s ever done it in the league.”
The NFL executive’s decision to already label Stroud a bust before he is even drafted is questionable. Teams might rightfully place value into S2 scores, especially considering how well quarterbacks like Joe Burrow, Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen fared with the tests.
However, even the creators of the S2 cognitive test would acknowledge that a high score doesn’t guarantee a quarterback will become a good NFL starter, nor does a low score indicate they will become a bust.
The NFL executive’s decision to judge Stroud based on the college he played for is also flawed. Justin Fields is an ascending player, but he plays the game completely differently than Stroud and was far less developed as a passer when he entered the league.
Former Ohio State standouts like Braxton Miller and Cardale Jones were never viewed as starting-caliber quarterbacks when they entered the league. While Dwayne Haskins was a first-round pick, his own personal struggles defined his early career.
If NFL executives and scouts are going to make sweeping generalizations about a quarterback prospect based on the college they played for, it won’t pay off in the long run. It would also suggest that USC’s Caleb Williams and North Carolina’s Drake Maye shouldn’t be viewed as top 2024 NFL Draft prospects because of the lack of success recent Trojans and Tar Heels quarterbacks have had in the NFL.