Player: C.J. Stroud, Ohio State

Player HS: C.J Stroud
© David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Player Action: C.J Stroud
© Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports
Rate (Pos) Player College Pos Ht Wt Class Round
1. (1) *C.J. Stroud Ohio State QB 6030 214 rSo 1

Overview

Pro Day: Building on an impressive Combine workout, Stroud again demonstrated excellent mechanics, delivering throws with power and accuracy to every part of the field. His quick, relaxed release and balanced base was evident on every kind of throw, and his touch on deep and intermediate balls exceeded even his performance in Indianapolis. With Panthers head coach Frank Reich looking on, Stroud’s sterling Pro Day likely strengthened his case for being the overall No. 1 pick (especially since Bryce Young measured shorter than expected at the Combine). For Stroud’s detractors, the presence of Marvin Harrison, Jr., who reportedly dazzled at Stroud’s Pro Day, probably did little to dispel their belief that Stroud benefitted from throwing to outstanding receivers.

Combine: Stroud bypassed the 40 and other athletic tests at the Combine, choosing to participate only in the passing drills. In each he showcased smooth footwork and balance throughout this drop and setup. His release was fluid and effortless, demonstrating accuracy to all levels. Though some question whether Stroud possessed an elite arm, his 59 MPH reading in the velocity drill equaled the best of Kentucky’s Will Levis. And on deep throws during the workout, Stroud left little doubt that he has enough arm strength and touch to push the ball downfield and open up an NFL offense.

Summary: Stroud is a young, polished passer who proved at the Combine to be the most natural passer in this class. Stroud’s best trait is his accuracy. On short passes Stroud displays a natural understanding of where to place passes to maximize his receiver's yards after the catch. Some questions arose about his athleticism as he rarely scrambled, but against Georgia, he showed that he has the speed to grab first downs with his legs. One of the main concerns about Stroud is that he was helped significantly by his WRs. Throughout his career, he threw to top-flight collegiate wideouts: 2022 first-round picks Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, and two likely future first-round picks, Marvin Harrison, Jr. and Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

Overall, C.J. Stroud is one of those QBs who should be ready to play from Day 1. He has a good, accurate arm and above average athleticism. The main question is how he will adjust to the speed and pressure of the NFL game. The hope is he develops into an elite distributor like Tua Tagovailoa did last year. Stroud is the type of well-rounded prospect who can help a team right away and could develop into a true franchise QB. Look for Stroud to go in the top 3 with a very good shot at going No. 1 overall to the Carolina Panthers.

College: Stroud arrived at Ohio State as a 4- or 5-star recruit, depending on the recruiting service. He had offers from multiple prestigious programs such as Michigan, Georgia, and Oregon. He redshirted his freshman year. In 2021 Stroud beat out Kyle McCord, Jack Miller, and No. 1 recruit Quinn Ewers to earn the starting job. In his first season, he excelled, throwing for 4,435 yards and 44 TDs. He finished 4th in the Heisman for his efforts. However, Stroud was unable to beat Oregon and Michigan, and the Buckeyes missed the playoffs. In 2022 Stroud again had a good season, with 3,688 passing yards, 41 TDPs, earning 3rd place in the Heisman. But as in 2021, he and the Buckeyes failed to beat Michigan. While Ohio State did lose to Georgia in the playoffs (the Peach Bowl), Stroud, in his final collegiate game, played very well.

Before College: Born in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, Stroud was the son of a pastor. In middle school, his father was convicted and sentenced to 38 years in prison. Stroud went through a tough childhood, but his dad instilled in him a strong religious faith and a love of sports. Initially considered a 3-star prospect, Stroud shot up the recruiting rankings with a strong performance his senior year, throwing for 47 TDs and nearly 3,900 yards.

Personal: A devout and practicing Christian, Stroud says it is the “foundation of his life.” Stroud donated and volunteered for Hope to Dream, which donates beds, blankets, and pillows for children in need.

ANALYSIS

Strengths: Stroud is an excellent all-around QB. His arm isn’t on the level of Anthony Richardson or Will Levis but he throws tight spirals with good velocity. From the far hash, his range on go balls is around 55-60 yards. Mechanically, he is calm and smooth, and displays accuracy to all levels of the field. Shows the confidence to fit passes into tight windows and consistently hits them. In the pocket, he displays the foot quickness to avoid sacks. Demonstrates good vision when out of the pocket and can find open receivers when the play breaks down. Has a tall and slender but sturdy frame that should be able to survive in the NFL.

Weaknesses: Under pressure, Stroud sometimes falls into the habit of throwing off his back foot, leading to errant passes. Despite good athleticism he seems hesitant to scramble and escape tightening pockets and would rather risk a throw downfield or take a sack than run, even when easy yards are available. Unable to win in the four biggest games of his career. He was 0-2 against rival Michigan. In the Michigan game, he consistently struggled on 3rd down. Stroud spent his career in a QB-friendly offense with elite receivers, so a major question heading into the Draft is how he will transition to having less dominant receivers.
-- Paul Duncan

Frankly: Stroud's fate is in the hands of the Carolina Panthers, who traded into the first draft spot in search of the quarterback they deem best. When Alabama QB Bryce Young measured only 5-10 1/8 at the Combine, the probability of Stroud (6-3, 214) going No. 1 overall increased. There were rumors the Panthers even liked Florida's raw but athletic Anthony Richardson, but I'm not buying it. In his 17 years as an NFL coach, Carolina's Frank Reich's quarterbacks were between 6-4 and 6-6 (except for five games). If the Panthers have ANY concern about Young's diminutive size, selecting Stroud should be an easy decision.
--Frank Cooney

HISTORY -- from Ohio State profile

• One of the top quarterbacks in the nation in 2021 and 2022

• A two-time Heisman Trophy finalist and Ohio State’s only two-time finalist (finalists were first named by the Heisman Trophy Trust in 1982)

• A two-time Big Ten Conference offensive player of the year and quarterback of the year

• Also named Big Ten freshman of the year for a total of five Big Ten individual awards to tie for second all-time in conference history with Justin Fields and Orlando Pace and behind only Braxton Miller’s seven

• Second-team All-American in 2022 by Walter Camp Foundation, CBS Sports and American Football Coaches Association after earning third-team honors in 2021 (Associated Press) along with freshman All-America laurels (The Athletic)

• Also a finalist in 2022 for Walter Camp Player of the Year, the Maxwell Award and the Dave O’Brien Award

• 21-4 as an Ohio State starter

• Directed Ohio State to No. 9 ranking nationally in total offense (490.7 ypg) and No. 2 in scoring (44.2 ppg) as a third-year sophomore in 2022

• Led the best offense in the nation as a freshman in 2021 with Ohio State No. 1 nationally in total offense (561.5) and scoring offense (45.7) while also finishing No. 2 in passing efficiency and and No. 3 in passing offense (380.9 ypg)

• Has set 16 Ohio State passing and total offense records and an additional three Big Ten records: season passing yards (3,193) and season TD passes (34) in Big Ten games only in 2021; career pass efficiency (182.39)

• Led the nation in pass efficiency rating in 2022 (177.7) and was second in 2021 (186.6)

• Ranked second nationally in TD passes in 2022 (41) and third in 2021 (44)

• The first QB in Big Ten history to have back-to-back seasons with 30 or more touchdown passes

• His school records include single game yards (573 in 2021 vs. Utah); single game touchdown passes (6 two times vs. Michigan State and also vs. Utah); season completion percentage (71.9 in 2021); season (369.6 in 2021) and career passing yards per game (290.1); season and career 300-yard games (9 in 2021; and 15); season and career 400-yard passing games (5 ini 2021); season and career passer efficiency rating (186.6 in 2021; and 182.39); consecutive pass completions (17 vs. Michigan State in 2021); and most games vs. Big Ten teams with five or more TD passes (seven)

• Total offense records include single game total offense (583 in 2021 vs. Utah); average total offensive yards for a season (367.9) and career (294.9)

• Set five Rose Bowl game records vs. Utah: 573 passing yards; six touchdown passes; 583 yards of total offense; TDs (6); and points (36) responsible for

• Spectacular, as well, against No. 1 Georgia in 2022 Peach Bowl with 348 passing yards, four TDs, no interceptions and 71 rushing yards gained in a last-second, 42-41 defeat

• Honored five times as Big Ten’s offensive player of the week and seven times in 2021 as freshman of the week

• A two-time Maxwell Award National Player of the Week in 2022: following six-TD, 361-yard game vs. Michigan State and also after five-TD, 297-yard game vs. Indiana

• Named Walter Camp National Player of the Week Nov. 21, 2021 after a spectacular first half against No. 7 Michigan State when he completed 29 of 31 passes for 393 yards and a school record-tying six touchdowns

• The first Ohio State quarterback to throw five TD passes without an interception in back to back games (2021 vs. Rutgers and Maryland)

• Topped those 10 TDs in consecutive games without an interception by throwing 11 TD passes without an interception vs. nationally ranked Purdue and Michigan State, including a school record-tying six vs. MSU

• Entered the 2021 season without a collegiate pass attempt as he appeared in only three games as a true freshman in 2020: vs. Rutgers, vs. Michigan State and vs. Clemson in the CFP Semifinals

• Had a 48-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter vs. the Spartans in 2020

Honors and Awards

2022: Heisman Trophy finalist, Big Ten’s Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year and Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year; First-team All-Big Ten (coaches and media); two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week; Team captain
2021: Heisman Trophy finalist; Big Ten’s Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year, Thompson-Randle El Freshman of the Year and Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year; First-team All-Big Ten (coaches and media); Seven-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week and two-time Offensive Player of the Week

• A five-star prospect who was rated as the nation’s No. 2 pro style quarterback and a top 50 player regardless of position

• Was one of the top performers at the Elite 11 Finals, earning MVP honors

• Had a spectacular senior season for Rancho Cucamonga and head coach Mark Verti, throwing for 3,878 yards and 47 touchdowns in 13 games

• Completed 66 percent of his passes

• Led Rancho Cucamonga to the state semifinals and a 9-4 record

• Amassed 6,221 yards passing as a starter during his junior and season seasons

• Had just 15 interceptions in 754 career pass attempts

• Played in the All-American Bowl on Jan. 4 in San Antonio

• Is the son of Coleridge and Kimberly Stroud, and has two older brothers, Isaiah and Asmar, and an older sister, Cieara

• Born Oct. 3, 2001