What makes CJ Stroud among the best players in college football


There is no doubt that Ohio State’s CJ Stroud is a top-two quarterback in college football and, in my latest opinion, the frontrunner to go No. 1 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft. The hierarchy of quarterback royalty is Stroud and Bryce Young, in any order, and then a drop to the next tier.

In what was Stroud’s first season as a starter in 2021, the former Top247 5-star completed 71.9 % of his passes, threw for 4,400 yards and 44 touchdowns with only six interceptions. At 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, Stroud will be tough to pass on as he has the size, skills, and athleticism that the NFL covets. Scouts have already gotten an extra-close look at Stroud as he threw very well at Ohio State’s 2022 Pro Day.

To me, the completion percentage really stands out — 71.9 is a crazy number and was second in the nation only behind Will Rogers from Mississippi State ( min 250 attempts). The scary part is that was Stroud’s first year as a starting quarterback. He started off a little slow in 2021 and was nicked up early in the season but like a fine wine, he improved weekly and was throwing dimes at will late in the season.

I think Stroud can be ever better this fall. Gone are two first-round wide receivers in Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave but OSU reloads and returns an elite wide receiver room led by All-American Jaxon Smith-Njigba and one of my breakout candidates in Marvin Harrison Jr.

We’re going to spend a lot of time digging into the tap of college football’s elite players, so it makes sense to kick this series off with Stroud.


STRENGTHS

Stroud’s accuracy is dead-on. This lets him throw balls downfield that many quarterbacks might be hesitant or even scared to throw. He places the ball perfectly the vast majority of the time. Stroud has exceptional arm strength as there is not a throw on the field that he cannot make. This combined with his accuracy makes him a tough out and why he will be coveted at the next level.


One of Stroud’s strengths is the ability to extend plays and deliver the ball on the move. Having a mobile quarterback is a huge plus and makes the Buckeye illegal, but having one that can stand tall in the pocket and throw on the run just as accurately is almost cheating.

Stroud’s anticipation is elite. He is rarely ever late on out routes, comebacks, back shoulder throws, or in breaking routes. The ball is delivered on time and in the right spots time after time where the receivers can maximize their RAC yards.

(This play shows everything great about CJ Stroud. He has no fear and delivers the ball into triple coverage on time and in a spot that protects his receiver. Arm strength, accuracy and anticipation.)

WEAKNESSE

Being nitpicky, Stroud can improve on making his reads and progressions quicker

I’d really like to see him use his legs more when there is green grass in front of him. Stroud almost never leaves the pocket if he doesn’t have too. In my opinion, he should look to take off more. I understand why he wouldn’t as Ryan Day wants to protect his prized quarterback but Stroud would be even more dangerous if there was a legitimate threat that he’d leave the pocket. Right now he only does it if he absolutely has to.

IN SUMMARY

Stroud has huge expectations and is likely to vastly improve statistics as he is unlikely to start off slow with the experience he achieved from 2021. Can he lead the Buckeyes to a Big Ten, the playoffs and a national championship while the Heisman Trophy — and then go first off the board in the NFL Draft? The sky is the limit.


Blake Brockermeyer is a College Football Analyst for 247Sports. He was an All-American OT at the University of Texas and was a first-round NFL Draft pick by the Carolina Panthers in 1995. He was a defensive quality control analyst for SMU from 2018-2020. He has sons on the Texas (Luke) and Alabama (Tommy, James) football teams.

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