CJ Stroud came out of Rancho Cucamonga, California as a highly touted recruit before joining Ohio State University. He was initially a back up for future NFL prospect Justin Fields before taking over under center in 2021.
Stroud ended up putting together arguably two elite seasons as the Buckeye’s QB, and also managed to be a Heisman Trophy finalist in both of those seasons. Stroud appeared to have considered returning to Ohio State for his senior year, but ultimately chose to declare for the NFL Draft.
Arguably the most accurate passer of this draft class, let’s take a look at Stroud overall as a quarterback prospect, and as an unlikely but possible pick for the Falcons if they move up.
Player Height/Weight: 6’3” - 214 lbs
Games Watched: at Penn State (2022), vs. Michigan(2022), vs. UGA(2022)
- Good size and frame for the pro game
- Good, but not elite, arm
- Elite accuracy to all levels of the field
- Operates off of a balanced frame in the pocket
- Shows outstanding anticipation throwing to receivers out of their breaks
- Throws with great ball placement, positioning his receivers for YAC
- Shows poise in the pocket with good field vision
- Shows an ability to consistently work through his progressions
- Has quality instincts in the pocket with a good internal clock and solid mobility
- Good with presnap awareness and audibles when needed
- Has a tendency to drift in the pocket when under duress
- Shows technique issues when throwing on the move, having issues squaring for the throw
- Reluctant to consistently make plays with his feet when things break down
- Can be a bit too confident in his arm talent when targeting a receiver, not showing enough respect to safeties over the top
In my opinion, CJ Stroud is easily the most accurate passer in this draft class. Most of us had concerns about Stroud going off script with plays, but he certainly quelled those concerns by showing a tremendous ability to create against UGA in the National Championship Semifinal.
The key for Stroud is showing that he can be more than a pure pocket passer at the next level, as the offensive schemes that are currently being deployed in the NFL lean more toward the athletic type of QB that can create outside of the pocket. As it sits currently, Stroud is believed to be one of the top two overall picks in the 2023 NFL Draft.
And now to bring it back to the Falcons: If he slips, will Terry Fontenot actually consider moving up to get him? It appears that Head Coach Arthur Smith and Fontenot have fully gotten behind Desmond Ridder as the starting quarterback, but also remember that Fontenot has publicly mentioned that he is not afraid to add to any position when it comes to the NFL Draft. Whether he lands in the division with the Panthers or that unlikely trade scenario unfolds, it’s good to know more about one of the most gifted passers in this class.