NEXT ON OUR SCOUTING REPORTS IS CJ STROUD. CHECK OUT OUR OTHER 2023 NFL DRAFT SCOUTING REPORTS HERE
- Height: 6’3″
- Weight: 218 Lbs
- College: Ohio State
- Year: Redshirt Sophomore
- Position: Quarterback
CJ Stroud is one of the top prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft and is a name you will hear extremely early on opening night. Stroud has the leadership, accuracy, pocket presence and football intelligence that make him an appealing NFL quarterback prospect, who will be in the conversation for the #1 overall pick.
Born in Ranco Cucamonga, California, around an hour outside of LA, Coleridge Bernard Stroud IV, better known as CJ, attended Rancho Cucamonga High School. CJ Stroud put up massive numbers in his high school career, including throwing for 3878 yards and 47 touchdowns in just 13 games in his senior year. Stroud’s play got him selected for the All-American Bowl and was also recognised to attend the Elite 11 Finals in which he earnt the MVP.
Stroud left high school a 4-star prospect and the 3rd-rated quarterback in his class. Stroud committed to Ohio State ahead of multiple other high-profile schools such as Georgia, USC, Michigan and Penn State.
After backing up Justin Fields in his Freshman year, Stroud became the full-time starter in 2021 fighting off a talented quarterback room, which included Quinn Ewers, Jack Miller and Kyle McCord, to gain the starting role.
Head coach, Ryan Day’s faith was justified. Stroud had an unbelievable season, which led to him being a Heisman Trophy finalist and being named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. Stroud’s 2021 season was record-breaking at Ohio State as he set 4 school records as well as 5 Rose Bowl records.
Entering the NFL Draft, CJ Stroud will be a top prospect. He has all the measurables, football acumen, leadership and intangible qualities that teams will fall in love with.
Watch the video below which shows why CJ Stroud will be a top draft pick and an exciting QB as he enters the NFL.
- Decision Making
There are many facets to CJ Stroud’s game that make him ready for the NFL. He excels within structure, he has a good head on his shoulders and Ohio State rave about Stroud’s leadership qualities. Alongside some of Stroud’s amazing natural physical abilities, it is his mental ability which often takes center stage. He has great football intelligence and approaches each play with methodical control.
Let’s start with CJ Stroud’s arm talent. To start with, Stroud’s arm strength is more than good enough. He is able to hit all areas of the field with multiple different techniques. Stroud has exceptional velocity and power when needed, but he also has the ability to change up his throwing speed depending on what area of the field he is targeting. He can power the ball outside the numbers with impeccable ball placement while also having lovely touch on downfield throws.
Stroud is also extremely accurate. When throwing with power to the outside, he places the ball well for whichever situation he finds his receivers in, where he positions the ball for his receiver to make a play and gather yards after the catch. He also rarely puts the ball in harm’s way. Stroud has the awareness to take what the defence is giving him while taking just enough risk to gain extra rewards. His risks are considered and measured but are not forced. He simply isn’t a player to make unforced errors, he throws with discipline, control and tempo. However, when he does miss or take a chance, he misses by placing the ball where defenders don’t have an opportunity to make a play. It is this play which demonstrates Stoud’s exceptional awareness and instincts which make him such a gifted prospect.
Stroud displays exceptional awareness which gives him the ability to throw with anticipation. He is able to throw his receivers open and is able to negotiate the field well. This anticipation demonstrates Stroud’s processing ability. It shows he can go through his reads quickly and decisively. Not only reacting to his reads, but also seeing where he needs to place the ball in a flash. His decision-making is also really really good, where he makes the right choice the majority of the time. Whether it be his reads or progressions, his throw selection or ball placement.
This all stems from CJ Stroud’s fundamental throwing mechanics. He has a good stance and base to work from, where he doesn’t get caught set wide or flat-footed and his throwing release is tight and quick. His ability to transition what he sees into action is lightning quick.
In terms of the type of QB that Stroud is, he fundamentally is a play executor. He has fantastic pocket presence and remains poised. His movement within the pocket is phenomenal, he can navigate the pocket and his short area mobility is sudden. Stroud has a feel for pressure and can evade it by negotiating the pocket in any direction. He is a pass-in-the-pocket quarterback, but is able to bootleg out when necessary. Stroud orchestrates his offence with control and authority. He is able to call audibles and seal protection showcasing his great intelligence.
While Stroud prospers in the pocket, he also has the ability to roll out and make plays. He isn’t the quickest or most athletic, but he can manipulate defences with his legs and keep defences honest when needed. His feet remain active and Stroud can also throw on the move maintaining power, velocity and accuracy. While he isn’t the most creative athletically, out of the pocket, when he does have to escape he can make things happen.
- Running threat
- Ohio State QBs
The areas that Stroud needs to improve on and no doubt are being worked on can be separated into a few categories.
The first being, throwing. While everything said before still stands, there are little nuances that he will be wanting to tidy up. Stroud’s arm strength isn’t elite. It is good, but won’t be mind-blowing. Stroud’s ability to throw at the next level will not be hindered by this, but during the draft process which measures every detail against other prospects, Stroud will fall behind some others. Also on his mechanics, he occasionally leans into his non-throwing shoulder. The repercussions of this are low throws and looser spirals. This isn’t an overly concerning problem as it is not on every throw and should be easily correctable.
The second area is his outside-the-pocket creativity. Stroud, for all intents and purposes, is a field general operating at his best from the pocket. He isn’t overly creative outside of the pocket and that stems from the fact he isn’t a dynamic athlete. He isn’t the most twitched up and he isn’t going to be a threatening runner to overly concern defences. That just isn’t the type of player he is. Is Stroud capable of offering threats outside of the pocket? Yes, but he isn’t the potent running threat like we see from players like Lamar Jackson or Trey Lance.
Lastly, is something completely outside of CJ Stroud’s control. That is the fact he is an Ohio State quarterback. You will hear time and time again the list of Ohio State quarterbacks that have not been a success in the NFL. There is hope that CJ Stroud will be different. Scout the player, not the helmet.
CJ Stroud is an exciting prospect who offers much to admire. His intelligence, awareness and instincts are rare and remarkable for a player who hasn’t yet entered the NFL. He has the brain to be a day 1 starter at the next level. Pair that with his accuracy, arm strength and mobility and an NFL team is getting a prospect who has all the intangibles to make it.
Stroud pairs his physical ability with his hardened mental intelligence. He is a natural quarterback who has the makings of a high-level NFL quarterback.
How good of a prospect is CJ Stroud? Let us know over on Twitter @NinetynineYards
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Video Credit: Prince Highlights
Image Credit: ESPN