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2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report: CJ Stroud (QB – Ohio State)

2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report: CJ Stroud (QB – Ohio State)

As the NFL season winds down, FantasyPros will be taking a look at early NFL draft scouting reports before the combine in March. Here’s a look at CJ Stroud.

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2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report: CJ Stroud (QB – Ohio State)

CJ Stoud (QB – Ohio State)

6’3″ – 218 lbs.

Background:

Sat behind Justin Fields in 2020, then took over the starting job the following year, finishing with 4,435 yards (71.9%, 10.1 YPA), 44 touchdowns and six interceptions. Had a similar 2022 campaign, with 3,688 yards (66.3%, 9.5 YPA), 41 touchdowns and six interceptions. Comes from a balanced offense that uses zone runs to set up play action/bootlegs and incorporates some RPOs. The offense features a lot of shotgun spread looks with a mix of the screen game and vertical passing, requiring quarterbacks to go through progressions and attack downfield.

Positives:

Solidly-built quarterback who put together a massive stat line in his first year starting and produced more of the same this past season, leading his team to some of the best finishes in college football. Won the job in part because of his leadership skills. Shows some advanced traits for a second-year starter. Has some experience setting the protection pre-snap. Good decision-maker who’s willing to go beyond his first read to find a throw he likes. Flashes the ability to throw with anticipation and to manipulate defenders with his eyes.

He doesn’t need to have a wide-open receiver to target them; he trusts his receivers/arm enough to try and stick passes. Has a quick, efficient throwing motion. Ball placement is good over the middle of the field. Uses appropriate touch. Able to make big-time throws out to the sidelines; can drop passes in a bucket down the field. Threw 30 touchdowns on deep balls over the past two seasons. Effective at attacking the defense on seam routes; can put passes on receivers in stride downfield, facilitating yards after the catch. Not a rushing threat but is a pretty good athlete who can escape pressure and buy time; rarely gets sacked when facing pressure.

Negatives:

Mechanics are inconsistent. Has a little bit of heel click at the back of some of his drops and doesn’t always dig his back heel in to generate power with his motion. Needs to transfer weight more regularly. Fades away from real or perceived pressure instead of stepping up or moving in the pocket. Opens his body early and dribbles some passes. Overall ball placement suffers from mechanics. Puts too many throws behind his receivers, forcing adjustments that limit YAC or lead to incompletions. Will occasionally opt for more difficult throws than he has to. Takes some risky chances into tight coverage, and overall arm talent is closer to solid than elite. A better deep-ball thrower than a flamethrower who rips passes with velocity.

Summary:

Probably the quarterback in this class with the most impressive combination of processing, anticipation, decisiveness and touch on downfield throws, traits that currently have him regarded as one of the top prospects in the class. Needs to continue to clean up his mechanics and may never be a dual threat, but as a pure pocket passer, it’s hard to find prospects more advanced at this point in their development.

Projection: Top-Five Overall Pick

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