C.J. Stroud will have a chance to be the top pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, but here’s why he was recently disrespected in college quarterback rankings.
In his first season as a starter in 2021, C.J. Stroud dropped the jaws of NFL talent evaluators with a thoroughly impressive performance on the football field. The Ohio State signal-caller never attempted a pass as a freshman in 2020, but last year he exploded to put up some of the best numbers in the NCAA among his peers.
Stroud threw for 4,435 passing yards, with 44 touchdowns and just 6 interceptions. His 71.9 completion percentage was certainly noteworthy, as was his 186.9 passer rating. He did all of this in 12 games, via Sports Reference.
The now 20-year-old quarterback immediately skyrocketed his NFL Draft stock with a fantastic showing in his first college football action, and he’s projected to be one of the top picks of the 2023 draft class.
Despite all of this, some football experts don’t seem to be sold on Stroud just yet. Recently, Anthony Treash of Pro Football Focus ranked his top 10 quarterbacks in college football heading into the 2022 season. He had Stroud just fourth on the list.
Unsurprisingly, Treash had Alabama’s Bryce Young listed as the top signal-caller in the nation. Young’s statistical production was equally as impressive last season despite a much tougher schedule that resulted in an appearance in the National Championship Game. However, the two other names higher than Stroud in these QB rankings are interesting.
Caleb Williams took over at quarterback on Oklahoma’s offense last season. Despite being a true freshman, Williams performed quite well. He will now transfer to USC where he will re-join head coach, Lincoln Riley.
Meanwhile, it’s interesting to find Spencer Ratter higher on this list than Stroud. Once thought of as the potential top overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, Rattler was forced to go back to school and transfer to South Carolina after a poor start to the season that saw him getting benched to Caleb Williams.
It’s not impossible to argue that there are four quarterbacks ahead of C.J. Stroud in college football entering the 2022 season, but why are some not as high on the young Ohio State quarterback?
Football experts not sold on Stroud
Despite his impressive numbers and tape from a season ago, talent evaluators still aren’t sure if C.J. Stroud is the real deal. There are a few reasons why this might be the case.
For starters, Stroud was in a very favorable situation in Ohio State’s offense last year. Both of his top receiving options — Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave — were high picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. Now that he doesn’t have either of them, some are projecting a setback this season.
In addition, Ohio State signal-callers have always gotten a bad rap. Even the guys who have put up superb numbers in college have yet to do much in the NFL. Justin Fields will try to break that stigma, but he had a bit of a rough rookie season as well.
Stroud also isn’t a threat to run the football by any stretch of the imagination. While he has decent mobility within the pocket, Stroud averaged -0.6 yards on 32 rushing attempts last season, and will probably never be able to beat teams with his legs. This is an advantage many other quarterbacks have over him.
Regardless of PFF’s rankings, C.J. Stroud could very well prove doubters wrong and have another monster season despite his top weapons leaving. If he does, he will still have a chance to be one of the very top picks in the NFL Draft next year. If he takes a step back, Stroud may elect to stay in school for one more year.