2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report: QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio State

2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report: QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio State

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2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report: QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio State


The California native parlayed a strong high school career into being a top-50 recruit, so it’s no surprise Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud wound up with a marquee program. He redshirted as a true freshman behind Justin Fields before unleashing a fantastic showing during his first year as a starter in 2021.

Stroud was rewarded with being named the Big Ten Quarterback, Freshman, and Offensive Player of the Year as well as a Heisman Trophy finalist. Despite losing wide receivers Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave to the NFL prior to the 2022 season, and seeing his presumed top target, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, held to only three contests because of injury, Stroud was once again a Heisman finalist after finishing second in FBS touchdown strikes.

Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 214 pounds
40 time: 4.50 seconds

There’s a lot to like about his game heading into the NFL, and it will be surprising if he falls past No. 2 overall. The Carolina Panthers hold the top spot, and while most prognosticators seem to be leaning toward Stroud as the pick, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen recently said the Panthers are locked in on Alabama quarterback Bryce Young. Either way, with three of the first four teams atop the board in dire need of a franchise passer, Stroud won’t have to wait long to hear his name called on draft day.

Table: C.J. Stroud stats (2020-22)

Year School Class G Passing Rushing
Cmp Att Pct Yds AY/A TD Int Att Yds TD
*2020 Ohio State Fr 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 48 1
*2021 Ohio State rFr 12 317 441 71.9 4,435 11.4 44 6 32 -20 0
*2022 Ohio State rSo 13 258 389 66.3 3,688 10.9 41 6 47 108 0

*includes postseason/bowl games (stats from Sports Reference)


  • The most consistently accurate quarterback of the class and can fit passes into tight windows on all three levels of the route tree — his ability to control trajectory is simply impressive
  • At his best throwing slants and posts — puts the ball on the money and gives the receiver a chance to house it in stride
  • Mobile within the pocket and always keeps his feet moving as he’s scanning the field
  • Stood out against premier competition at the highest level
  • Natural feel for the game — senses pressure, finds open lanes, anticipates receivers uncovering, rises to the occasion
  • Squares up properly when flushed out of the pocket
  • More than enough arm strength to attack anywhere on the field and also has the desire to do so with his talents
  • Surveys the field well enough to get through several reads in a timely manner
  • Throws one of the most catchable balls, rarely drilling one too hot in the flats or forcing a breaking receiver to adjust his route
  • Despite being asked to do a lot in 2022, he had the wherewithal to dial it back to play within the confines of the situation when needed
  • Played through a separated shoulder in 2021
  • Unafraid of taking a shot from a defender barreling down on him


  • Occasionally gets locked onto his top read, which was easy to understand in 2021 given his receiver. Can be late to reach the correct throw because of this
  • Offers no threat as a runner in the open field
  • Could use a few tweaks from pro coaches to maximize leg drive
  • Presnap protection reads are a work-in-progress

Fantasy football outlook

Personally, I’ll be shocked if Carolina doesn’t choose Stroud. He fits the prototypical mold of what head coach Frank Reich loves in a quarterback. The Panthers have Andy Dalton under contract to serve as a mentor and/or even start the first few games if Reich feels the former Buckeye isn’t quite ready yet.

If Stroud winds up in Houston, expect him to immediately replace Davis Mills without hesitation. Personnel-wise, it’s mostly a coin flip as to which team has more targets. Carolina sports a slightly better veteran presence in its receiving corps for stronger immediate results, though Houston offers a few pieces with whom Stroud can grow together. To-may-toe, to-tmaht-toe.

Carolina didn’t trade up only to trade out, so let’s just assume they prefer Young and Houston somehow wants to go in a different direction, there’s basically no chance Indianapolis will pass on Stroud at No. 4. In fact, another team could try to trade into No. 3 (Arizona) to secure his services.

Year 1 fantasy football returns will be minimal, at best, regardless of where he plays. Generally, rookie quarterbacks without the wheels of someone like Fields or Lamar Jackson struggle to make any kind of serious impact in fantasy. You’ll find a few notable exceptions, of course, but no one should enter single-year fantasy drafts with Stroud being in their 2023 plans. He has rock-solid QB1 upside in the long term and should be the first quarterback chosen in most dynasty settings.


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