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NFL analysts, players defend C.J. Stroud against ‘concerns’ raised about his character

C.J. Stroud is one of the best 2023 NFL Draft prospects and is a projected top-five pick on April 27. However, the former Ohio State Buckeyes star has faced recent criticism with red flags raised over decisions he made in college.

Former NFL quarterback Brady Quinn created headlines on Wednesday, saying during a podcast that Stroud once committed to participate in the Manning Passing Academy. However, per Quinn, Stroud ‘ghosted them’ the night before and never showed up for the passing academy.

Related: C.J. Stroud scouting report

As the comments gained traction on social media, Stroud’s draft stock became a focal point of the conversation. Viewed as the second-best quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft, Stroud is no longer expected to be a top-two pick.

The Houston Texans reportedly prefer edge rusher Will Anderson Jr and recent reports hinted that some teams aren’t likely to trade up for Stroud. Shortly after Quinn’s commentary, there was additional conversation suggesting Stroud was hard to coach at Ohio State.

Just hours after Stroud’s maturity, coachability and commitment to football seemed to come under question, he is now receiving support from many around the NFL.

NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks, a former cornerback who later worked in the league as an executive, defended Stroud’s work ethic and leadership. Not only has the top NFL Draft analyst spoken to people around the league and at Ohio State, he also witnessed it years ago at an Elite 11 camp.

“I can vouch for @CJ7STROUD after watching him work at @Elite11 He was awesome throughout the week as he led our team. He was mature beyond his years, as displayed the leadership, poise and composure of a A+ QB1 on a field full of stars. He also spent the week learning the game of chess during his off time. Despite the recent chatter blemishing his character, CJ has been nothing but an A1 dude since our paths crossed.”

NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks on Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud

Brooks isn’t the only prominent former player and current NFL analyst to defend Stroud. Former NFL player Ryan Clark also defended Stroud, specifically addressing Quinn’s claim that the Buckeyes’ quarterback bailed on the Manning Passing Academy the night before it began.

Related: Red flags could hurt C.J. Stroud’s draft stock

Clark also interviewed another player who has a lot of experience with Stroud. Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, the projected first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, worked alongside Stroud at the Elite 11 camp when they were younger.

During an interview on The Pivot Podcast, Young raved about Stroud’s composure and made it clear he has heard positive reviews from Buckeyes’ players regarding Stroud.

“I was able to watch how C.J. was in the Elite 11, that’s a big moment where everyone’s trying to win the MVP, everyone’s trying to win the 7-on-7 tournament, it’s big at the time. Seeing how he carried himself during that time, seeing how every time there was a big moment, he stepped up, every big occasion. Seeing that in those high-pressure situations, stuff that was being, seeing just how he carried himself, that was something that really stood out to me…I’ve been around a bunch of people who’ve played with him, when you hear how they talk about him, that’s always a pretty big measurement of how people are.”

Bryce Young on quarterback C.J. Stroud

Quinn made it clear that he views Stroud as the second-best quarterback in the draft class and he also offered plenty of praise for him. It’s also accurate that NFL teams would take note of a young quarterback skipping the Manning Passing Academy, given the weight the family’s name holds around the NFL.

However, it now seems Stroud never made a direct commitment to the camp and he used that time in 2022 to get in extra practice time with his teammates. NFL teams care about commitment to football above all other things, so Stroud’s decision to prioritize making himself and his teammates better prepared for the 2022 season will likely be viewed as a positive.