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C.J. Stroud NFL Draft 2023: Scouting Report for Ohio State QB

BR NFL Scouting DepartmentContributor I

Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud plays against Rutgers during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
AP Photo/Jay LaPrete

HEIGHT: 6'3"

WEIGHT: 218

HAND: TBD

ARM: TBD

WINGSPAN: TBD


40-YARD DASH: TBD

3-CONE: TBD

SHUTTLE: TBD

VERTICAL: TBD

BROAD: TBD


POSITIVES

— Above-average athlete; good speed, quick twitch to get out of the pocket.

— Very good arm strength when clean; comfortably throws from the far hash and into tight windows down the middle.

— Quick, flexible throwing motion.

— Excellent accuracy when clean; consistent placement with incredible flashes of touch and understands how to throw around and away from defenders.

— Above-average pre-snap processor; identifies blitz and takes advantage by throwing behind it; executes quick game with efficiency.

— Willing to stand tall and make a throw if he knows it should be open based on pre-snap indicators.

— Good at finding easy or safe plays outside the pocket; can find checkdowns or throwaways rather than put the ball at risk.


NEGATIVES

— Slight build with very little contact balance; goes down easily in the pocket and can't really be a designed runner.

— Below-average ability to throw from crowded pockets, especially late in the down when a play needs to be extended.

— Below-average ability to throw on the move when scrambling; arm strength and placement fall off.

— Not a particularly creative player outside the pocket.

— Post-snap processing needs development; too often blindly fires or freezes when the picture changes on him.

— Hesitates and double-clutches too often, which disrupts timing of the play.


NOTES

— DOB: Oct. 3, 2001

— 2021 and 2022 Heisman Trophy finalist; finished fourth and third

— 2021 and 2022 first-team All-Big Ten


OVERALL

C.J. Stroud is an exciting on-schedule passer who may need to find another gear off-script to reach his potential.

Stroud is a task-oriented passer and a very good one. Pre-snap, Stroud does well to identify potential blitzes, decipher man vs. zone tells and anticipate early weak spots in coverage. Ohio State's wide-open scheme helped with that in terms of presenting pre-snap indicators, but Stroud did well to take advantage.

His rapid-fire throwing motion and ample arm strength make it easy for him to deliver on those opportunities as well. Stroud can comfortably rip the ball to the far hash for deep comebacks, out-breakers and back-shoulders balls as well as deliver into tight windows over the middle to complete seam-benders, posts and dig routes.

There isn't a throw Stroud can't make when in rhythm, and his high-end flashes of touch placement are better than anyone else's in the class.

However, when Stroud's pre-snap understanding of a play is disrupted, he is up and down. Versus more ambitious defenses, namely Notre Dame, Wisconsin and Michigan, Stroud showed late or questionable decision-making when the coverage was rotated or when bodies dropped off the line of scrimmage unexpectedly.

Likewise, Stroud is not much of a natural playmaker. There are moments when he can find a safe throw on the move or get to a throwaway, but he doesn't do very well to break tackles or hunt for explosive plays during scramble drills.

Stroud has similar issues in condensed pockets. He's willing to take hits if his first read comes open, similar to Jared Goff or Kirk Cousins, but when forced to hang in a cluttered pocket and search for a new answer, Stroud tends to tense up and lose some of his arm strength and accuracy.

In the right environment, Stroud will raise the floor of an offense right away. He's got the pre-snap vision, arm talent and accuracy to be functional sooner rather than later, and the progress he showed as the year went on suggests he has a capacity to improve rapidly.

Still, his ceiling feels more good than great, at least until he proves he can be more aggressive out of structure and comfortable in muddied pockets, which he barely had to deal with at Ohio State. Stroud can be an effective rookie-contract quarterback while trying to add more of an edge to his game.


GRADE: 8.4 (Year 1 Starter/Late Round 1, Round 2)

OVERALL RANK: 9

POSITION RANK: QB2

PRO COMPARISON: Athletic Jared Goff


Written by B/R NFL Scout Derrik Klassen