2023 NFL Draft

2023 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud

From now until the 2023 NFL Draft, we will scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top-10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents Today, I’ll be profiling Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud. 

#7 C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State (R-Sophomore) – 6030, 214lb

Combine Invite


Player Ht/Wt Hand Size Arm Length Wingspan
C.J. Stroud 6’3, 214lb 10 32 5/8 N/A
40-Yard Dash 10-Yard Dash Short Shuttle 3-Cone
Broad Jump Vertical Bench Press

The Good

— Has the height and frame you look for in a franchise QB
— Great hand size (10”) to be able to hold on to the football in adverse weather and when hit in the pocket
— Has deceptive speed and explosiveness as a runner
— Can create for himself out of structure as a scrambling QB, can be used on designed QB runs
— Has some shake and elusiveness as a runner, able to evade tacklers in open space
— Has upside as a runner at the next level that he only flashed in college
— Displays mobility in the pocket and can scramble outside of the pocket to create outside of structure after the play breaks down
— Will keep his eyes downfield as a passer but has the awareness to know when to tuck and run the ball if the lane is there
— Does a good job protecting himself by sliding down when he sees contact coming as a runner
— Operated in the shotgun of a spread offense but also got exposure under center
— Has good footwork in the pocket, whether it be his three- or five-step drops or his mobility from side to side or to step up
— Quick, fluid throwing motion with a clean release to his hip pocket
— Has good delivery of the football when pushing it downfield, having the hip mobility and power to generate more velocity and force on his throws
— Doesn’t have a howitzer arm, but can make nearly every throw in the book
— Does a good job of making throws while on the run
— Ball placement is beautiful on throws toward the sideline in tight coverage or when it puts it in the breadbasket over defenders
— Accurate passer on the short and intermediate passes, sticking it on the receiver over the middle and in-position for the target to try and get YAC
— Has shown leadership by fighting through injury to play for his teammates
— Isn’t afraid of competition, committing to OSU while Justin Field was on campus

The Bad

— Can stand to add more meat to his frame as he is quite lean
— Occasionally will lock onto a target or stay on his first read too long
— Will try and make the hero play instead of taking what the defense gives him to live another down
— Will trust his arm too much at times, getting loose with his lower body mechanics
— Will whip his back foot on throws toward the sideline at times, leading to inaccurate passes
— Can do a better job identifying pressure and incoming blitzers
— Lacks the rare arm strength to consistently make off-platform throws when getting pressured in the pocket


— Redshirt Sophomore prospect from Inland Empire, CA
— Born October 3, 2001 (21 years old)
— Five-star prospect who was rated as the nation’s No. 2 pro-style quarterback
— Threw for 3,878 yards and 47 touchdowns in 13 games as a high school senior
— Played in the All-American Bowl
— Played in one game as a true freshman behind Justin Fields and took a single carry 48 yards for a TD against Michigan in 2020
— Started 12 games in 2021 and completed 317-of-441 pass attempts (71.9%) for 4,435 yards (10.1 Y/A), and 44 TDs with six INTs, also rushed the ball 32 times for -20 yards (counting sacks)
— Separated his right (throwing) AC joint in the season opener in 2021 but played through the pain
— Started 13 games in 2022 and completed 258-of-389 attempts (66.3%) for 3,68 yards (9.5 Y/A) and 41 TDs with six INTs, also carried the ball 47 times for 108 yards (including sacks)
—  Led the FBS in pass efficiency (177.7) in 2022, second in 2021 (school-record 186.6)
— Second-team All-American (2022), Third-team All-American (2021), 2× first-team All-Big Ten (2021-22), Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year (2021-22), Big Ten Quarterback of the Year (2021-22), Freshman of the Year (2021), fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting in 2021 (third in 2022)

Tape Breakdown

C.J. Stroud had to wait his turn at Ohio State before getting a chance in the spotlight, sitting behind Justin Fields as a freshman. However, the former five-star recruit took college football by storm in 2021, being named Freshman of the Year as he ranked near the top of the FBS in yards, TDs, and completion percentage. Stroud followed that up with a strong 2022 campaign, showing off his natural arm talent as well as his underrated athleticism as one of the most gifted passers in the entire country.

When you turn on Stroud’s tape, you see an artist with the ball in his hands. He is likely the most accurate passer in the draft class as he can effortlessly put the ball on his intended target nearly anywhere on the field. He throws with great touch and anticipation, as you can see that in this clip against Michigan. He completes the deep out to his intended target, throwing off his back foot along the sideline with his receiver in tight coverage for the first down.

His touch also shows up on the deep ball where Stroud has enough arm strength to stretch the field vertically as the captain of a dynamic passing attack. Check out this pass by Stroud to Marvin Harrison Jr. Stroud drives the football down the sideline to Harrison, dropping it over the shoulder into the breadbasket for the walk-in TD.

Stroud has a quick release and does a great job firing the ball on the money in the short and intermediate portions for the field. Here are a couple of throws Stroud makes against Northwestern. He gets the ball out quick on the curl route, displaying good ball placement and velocity to complete the pass and keep the offense moving.

What also sticks out about Stroud is his ability to create outside of structure as a passer. He is a lot more athletic and mobile than people give him credit for and is able to escape pressure and make throws on the run. Check out these two TD passes Stroud makes against Georgia in the CFP Semifinal Round. Buying time with his legs as he scans the field, he evades pressure to find his receiver running open in the end zone and puts it on him for the score.

Stroud not only uses his mobility as a passer but also as a runner when he needs to create with his legs in scramble situations. He is deceptively fast and quick, having seen some utilization as a designed runner on RPOs at Ohio State. We saw a lot of usage by Stroud in this area of his game against the Bulldogs, but he also picked up nearly 80 yards on the ground against Northwestern last season as when the weather made for adverse throwing conditions. Much like his predecessor, Justin Fields, at Ohio State, Stroud has more meat on the bone when it comes to using his legs at the next level.

There are times where Stroud will get caught trying to do too much in terms of making the play instead of living to play another down. His situational awareness needs to continue to improve. On this play he throws a desperation pitch to his receiver with a defender bringing him down. He tosses it straight to the defense for an easy INT instead of taking the sack and facing fourth down inside the opponent’s red zone.

Stroud also trusts his arm a little too much at times and needs to be more consistent with his lower body mechanics. On this throw against the Bulldogs, Stroud whips his back leg on the throw to the sideline with Harrison as the intended target, sailing the ball outside on a bad miss.

While Stroud has a strong enough arm, he doesn’t have the raw power and velocity to make those crazy, off-platform throws that Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes can make. This makes it difficult to complete passes with defenders in his face like on this play against Georgia. Stroud sees the blitzer coming right at him and throws off his back foot as he turns his shoulder before getting hit, missing his intended target.


C.J. Stroud has the talent and pedigree to become a quality franchise quarterback in the NFL for years to come. He is extremely intelligent as a passer, having the touch and accuracy to pick apart opposing defenses as the captain of a passing attack. He possesses that poise in the pocket when the play breaks down to find a way to make plays with his arm or his legs, showcasing his mobility at times last season when the team needed him to step up as a runner. He needs to continue to hone his mechanics and add more functional mass to his frame, but Stroud has the tools to be a team’s signal caller for the next decade plus.

When watching Stroud, I was reminded of another former top recruit at QB who had a prolific passing career in college while also possessing the mobility to create as a passer as well as a runner: Trevor Lawrence though I recognize that Lawrence is a little taller and has more natural arm strength. The two passers are both a little thin given their respective frames but showed they can win on the ground while being pocket passers first, completing passes in all quadrants of the field while also being able to extend plays and lead championship-caliber squads. Lawrence also struggled with mechanics and trying to play hero ball at times at Clemson but really came into his own in his second season in Jacksonville.

I see Stroud having a similar path as Lawrence in terms of having some growing pains either as a Day One starter or sitting behind a veteran to start. But he will get into a groove near the end of his rookie season while taking a notable step forward in Years 2 and 3. He definitely isn’t in play for the Steelers at #17 as they have their QB of the future. Stroud should be a top-five lock and has the ingredients to insert himself into the discussion as a top-10 QB in the league within his first few seasons if put in a position to succeed.

Projection: Day One

Depot Draft Grade: 9.2 – Pro Bowl Talent/Day 1 Starter (Top 10 Pick)

Games Watched: at Northwestern (2022), vs Georgia (2022), vs Michigan (2022), vs Wisconsin (2022)

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