2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report

C.J. Stroud Scouting Report

September 4, 2022 1:00 PM EST

C.J. Stroud Scouting Report picture

School: Ohio State

Height: 6'3"

Weight: 218

Eligibility: JR

Uniform: #7

Position: QB

Evaluated by: Austin Smith
Twitter: NFLDraftAustin
September 4, 2022

Prospect Overview

2021: 12 G | 317-441, 4435 yds, 44-6 (TD-INT), 71.9 Comp %

Stroud was a four or five-star prospect depending on the publication and was unanimously ranked in the top ten at his position, with some putting him second just behind Bryce Young. During his final year at Rancho Cucamonga, he passed for nearly 300 yards a game and 47 touchdowns across 13 contests.

CJ Stroud Scouting Report image 4

As a redshirt freshman, Stroud won the starting job over a host of former highly-touted recruits, including Kyle McCord and Quinn Ewers. From there, Stroud put up a Heisman-caliber season, completing nearly 72 percent of his passes for 4,435 yards and 44 touchdowns.

Overall, the Buckeyes' offense finished near the top of the country in most statistics with Stroud leading the charge, while the redshirt freshman broke 17 school records. In his second year as the starter, the All-American and 2021 Heisman finalist will be one of the most exciting players to watch in college football.

Stroud won't turn 21 until this October and opens the year as one of the top draft-eligible quarterbacks for the 2023 class. He is also working on a major in human development and family sciences.

CJ Stroud Scouting Report image 2


Physically, Stroud looks the part of a traditional pocket passer. He's a tall, long-limbed athlete with an adequate frame. He generates plenty of arm strength with an effortless motion, though it can sometimes include a bit of a wind-up.

Stroud consistently throws a catchable spiral that travels well, whether driving balls to the far sideline or hanging it up deep for his receivers to run under. Between this and his impressive arm strength, it's not uncommon to see him launch balls that travel up to 60 yards in the air.

In the pocket, Stroud is extremely detail oriented. His feet are active and quick, and he does a good job maneuvering with his weight underneath him. As Stroud works through his progressions, he squares his shoulders well while staying balanced to maintain his throwing base.

He also has experience under center and shows good footwork and pace in his drops. When he hits his back foot, he shows the willingness to climb the pocket, and overall, he transfers his weight well at the top of his drop.

Like most first-year starters, he improved in various areas as the season progressed. His accuracy and ball placement looked terrific by the end of the year, and he was anticipating his throws much better as well.

Early on, he predetermined some throws and stared them down, but that was less often the case down the stretch. His overall decision-making improved through the year as well, as we saw some flashes of inexperience with throw-away situations and poor choices based on down and distance.

Still, Stroud is an intelligent player, and it's evident throughout his game. He's very active in the pre-snap communication and alters his cadences in various ways. Not only does Stroud sell his run fakes well, but he understands when it's appropriate to abandon them to get the ball out on time.

Areas for Improvement

While Stroud is a very confident passer in the pocket, he does occasionally drop his eyes when pressure is coming. It wasn't a consistent issue, mainly because there weren't many examples of him getting pressured, but it will be something that needs to improve moving forward.

He also has a lot of work to do when it comes to making throws on the move. While Stroud is a solid athlete, I'm not sure it will be a strength like it is for quarterbacks with similar builds like Justin Herbert and Ryan Tannehill.

Like both players, Stroud is long-limbed but a bit clunkier on the move. Also, while he consistently squares his shoulders in the pocket, that's rarely the case when he tries to throw on the move.

Part of the issue may be his overall core strength not being good enough to handle the torque and stay balanced when he's on the move. Still, as he gets stronger, this will be an area that gets better.

Another area that needs to be cleaned up is his tendency to pat the ball before throwing it. That's a habit that quarterbacks don't get away with in the NFL. Also, while he typically keeps the ball close to his frame, he fumbled four times in 2021.

Overall, the decision-making did improve throughout the season. Still, it's got to continue on the trajectory for another year, or it will be a deterrent during the evaluation process.

CJ Stroud Scouting Report image 3

Draft Stock

Stroud enters this year firmly in the conversation as the top quarterback prospect in what could be a loaded 2023 class. He has extraordinary leadership qualities that center around his faith, confidence, and work ethic, which should check several boxes for NFL evaluators.

He comes from a family that takes their faith very seriously, though his father, a pastor, was sent to prison during his younger years. Still, Stroud credits his older siblings and mother for helping him to stay committed to his faith through that experience.

One area that will make it challenging to evaluate Stroud is Ohio State's offensive talent. Whether it's Stroud, or guys like Justin Fields and the late-Dwayne Haskins, Buckeyes' quarterbacks have rarely been put in difficult scenarios.

More often than not, Stroud was making throws with little pressure to open targets. That can sometimes disguise flaws that must be addressed with a prospect's decision-making and mechanics.

While Stroud lost several prominent players around him, his supporting class will likely continue to be more than ideal in 2022. That could mean some issues may not show themselves or be addressed until the pre-draft process begins.

Still, Stroud's desire to win and work ethic lend themselves to a player willing to do what it takes to be an NFL quarterback. With another year of progression and success, he will likely be a candidate to go very high in next April's draft.

CJ Stroud Scouting Report image 1

Player Comparison

A lot of people are going to compare Stroud to Justin Herbert, and that's not a bad comparison. Both have impressive arm strength and can drive the ball to any point on the field. However, I see some Matt Ryan in Stroud as well.

Like Ryan did at Boston College, Stroud shows a confident, detail-oriented approach in the pocket. Ryan was also very involved in the pre-snap process during his later years in college, and his decision-making, accuracy, and ball placement were strengths to his game.

Stroud made significant strides in each of those areas in his first full year as a starter, and if that continues, the comparison between these two will hold up. Of course, Ryan was never the athlete Stroud is, but Stroud isn't the athlete Herbert was coming out of Oregon either.

I see an exciting blend of Herbert and Ryan in his game, which could make for a top-ten grade. I also wouldn't be surprised to hear Carson Wentz's name come up when Stroud is mentioned.

Games Evaluated

  • at Minnesota (9-2-21)
  • vs Oregon (9-11-21)
  • vs Penn State (10-30-21)
  • vs Michigan State (11-20-21)
  • at Michigan (11-27-21)
  • vs Utah (1-1-22)

Notes from Film

  • Tall, long limbed passer with adequate frame.
  • Little bit of a wind up in his throwing motion that gets longer when he needs to put some heat on it.
  • Effort less arm strength that doesn't take a lot of momentum to launch the ball 60 yards. Drives the ball to the opposite sideline with ease.
  • Bit of a clunky athlete when on the move. In the pocket, his feet are quick and precise, but on the move, he's a long-strider without much explosion to his game.
  • Shows the strength to break free of sack attempts.
  • Doesn't consistently throw well on the move. He doesn't always square his shoulders well when he escapes the pocket, and his movement leads me to believe the core strength isn't there to shift and then reverse with the kind of torque it takes to make strong throws on the move.
  • Sells run fakes well, with good positioning and footwork to make quick throws out of the fake. Understands when to abandon the run fake to get the ball out quicker. Also does a good job of snapping head around when fake has him turn back to line of scrimmage.
  • Changes up his cadences and employs fake claps to entice defenders to jump offsides or declare their assignment. Changes up snap calls from claps to calls.
  • Tends to pat the ball. Whether waiting for a receiver to come out of his break or just as part of his natural motion, he's got to kick this.
  • Active in the pocket. Feet are quick and active. Squares shoulders from progression to progression quickly. This allows him to throw from ideal platform often and his balls always have good velocity because of it.
  • Lot of pre-snap communication involved with identifying the Mike, possible threats and protection slides to counter.
  • Can predetermine passes in multi-read designs and will often lock onto one receiver (early in the season)
  • Accuracy and ball placement were inconsistent to start the year but there were some flashes of brilliance when it all came together. As the season went on, this improved but there is still work to be done. Against Utah, ball placement was impeccable.
  • Eyes can get a little spastic when pressure is coming, especially when pocket is closing in on him. However, against Michigan, I thought he did a better job of climbing the pocket and keeping his eyes down the field.
  • Over shot some deep balls on several occasions. Touch was there, but misjudged his receiver's speed.
  • Does have some experience under center.
  • Will make some questionable decisions (run out bounds for sack instead of throwing it away, pass on check-down for first down yards on third down to continue to survey downfield)
  • Improved with touch passes as season went on.
  • Anticipation also improved as year went on, whereas early in the season, he needed to see receivers come out of breaks or get into windows before pulling trigger.

Scouting Video Courtesy of JustBombs Productions

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