The roller coaster that has been the pre-draft narrative of Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud has been a nauseating one, to say the least. Back in early March, following the Panthers' acquisition of the No. 1 overall pick from the Chicago Bears, he suddenly became the odds-favorite to be selected first overall.
... then, odds shifted back to Alabama QB Bryce Young as the very, very heavy favorite to be drafted No. 1 overall, without much information as to why.
... then, there were some odd narratives suddenly coming out about him blowing off the Manning Passing Academy and bombing the S2 test (consider it an athlete’s aptitude test) - both of which were apparently false? Who in the world is spreading this kind of misinformation? And will it affect his draft capital as one of the top quarterback prospects in this class?
He's #2 for the Texans.
School: Ohio State (Sophomore)
Measurables: 6'3, 214 lbs.
TLDR; C.J. Stroud doesn't have the strongest arm in this class, but he's sure got the most accurate one — by a MILE. He's an NFL-ready passer, right out of the gate. Despite all of the talent, however, the NFL Draft community has some questions about how he'll perform at the next level.
First, there's a concern that he performed *so well* because of the robust talent in OSU's wide receiver room, which undoubtedly made his job as a quarterback that much easier. Over his two seasons as a starter, he's thrown to: Chris Olave (2022 first-round pick), Garrett Wilson (2022 first-round pick, Offensive Rookie of the Year), Jaxon Smith-Njigba (projected 2023 first-round pick & WR1 of this class), Marvin Harrison Jr. (yes, the son of that Marvin Harrison — you know, the Hall of Fame WR who ranks 9th on the all-time NFL receiving list and fifth all-time in receiving touchdowns? Yeah, that guy). OH, and then there's Emeka Egbuka, the No. 1 ranked WR recruit in the 2021 class who's absolutely flourished in his two seasons with the Buckeyes. To call the talent pool that Stroud has been throwing to "ridiculous" doesn't even begin to do it justice.
Can he still be that same guy without the slew of first-round WR talent around him? That's concern No. 1, which feels like a reasonable question while also feeling like an unreasonable question, honestly. After all, he didn't recruit his wide receivers — it feels silly to penalize him for playing with too much talent when it's something he can't help, right?
The second concern feels just as reasonable (and unreasonable) as the first, which is, "Ohio State quarterbacks haven't translated at the NFL level." Simply put, there are concerns that the two quarterbacks we've seen in recent years coming out of OSU haven't been hits. Those two quarterbacks include the since-deceased Dwayne Haskins (No. 15 overall, 2019) and Justin Fields (No. 11 overall, 2021), who, to be fair, has shown some absolutely ridiculous flashes despite an abysmal supporting cast... so the jury is still out.
All in all, it feels like Stroud is one of the safer quarterback prospects in this class, with a pro-ready passing skill set that should be able to elevate any team. He's particularly excelled with good offensive line play (and had more struggles under pressure — which is reasonable), but his processing and accuracy make up for that in my book.
Well, they're gonna struggle. Houston has many holes and a QB doesn't fit all of them. However, it does buy the GM and Coach some time to develop the team around him. Davis Mills could even take some starting snaps til Stroud full grasps the NFL offense. But if he plays in the NFL like he did in the college football playoff, the future could be bright in Houston.