QB · Ohio State
Additional Player Notes
Update: On Friday, April 21, veteran NFL/Draft reporter Bob McGinn posted a story citing unnamed sources that Stroud scored 18 percent on an S2 Cognitive test, compared to Alabama quarterback Bryce Young getting 98 percent. The post listed other quarterbacks in the draft scoring percentiles from the 40s to the 90s. Information from the post went viral. NFLDraftScout.com investigated further and, among other things, learned from S2 co-founder Brandon Alley that "All guys in the discussion scored really, really well" and that "It is a mistake to value one number. We give 9 different cognitive tests. If you score in the 90th you could be in the 10th for object tracking which means you have tunnel vision.” See NFLDraftScout.com's full story here.
Summary: Stroud (Coleridge Bernard "C. J." Stroud IV) is a redshirt sophomore but already a polished player and team leader who fought his way through a rough childhood to get where he is. He proved at the Indy Combine to be the most naturally accurate passer in this class. On short passes Stroud displays an innate understanding of where to place passes and maximize the receiver's yards after the catch. If anybody questioned his athleticism, Stroud answered impressively with a spectacular display against the almighty Georgia defense. And although he does have ability to run, he shows an even more important knack at finding a way to stay, or move, in the pocket and make the right play. In so doing, he also reveals he can go through his progression better than most. One of the main curiosities about Stroud is that he was helped significantly by top-flight collegiate wideouts: 2022 first-round picks Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, and two likely future first-round picks, Marvin Harrison Jr. and Jaxon Smith-Njigba.
Overall, C.J. Stroud should be ready to play from Day 1. The main question is how soon he can adjust to the speed and pressure of the NFL game, an issue with all rookie quarterbacks. Look for Stroud to go in the top 3, with a very good shot at going No. 1 overall to the Carolina Panthers.
Pro Day: Building on an impressive combine workout, Stroud again demonstrated excellent mechanics, delivering throws with power and accuracy to every part of the field. His quick, relaxed release and balanced base were evident on every kind of throw and his touch on deep and intermediate balls exceeded even his performance in Indianapolis. With Panthers head coach Frank Reich looking on, Stroud’s sterling Pro Day likely strengthened his case for being the overall No. 1 pick (especially since Bryce Young measured shorter than expected at the combine). For Stroud’s detractors, the presence of Marvin Harrison Jr., who reportedly dazzled at Stroud’s Pro Day, probably did little to dispel their belief that Stroud benefitted in college from throwing to outstanding receivers.
Combine: Stroud bypassed the 40 and other athletic tests at the combine, choosing to participate only in the passing drills. In each he show-cased smooth footwork and balance throughout this drop and setup. His release was fluid and effortless, demonstrating accuracy to all levels. Though some question whether Stroud possessed an elite arm, his 59 MPH reading in the velocity drill equaled the best of Kentucky’s Will Levis. And on deep throws during the workout, Stroud left little doubt that he has enough arm strength and touch to push the ball downfield and open up an NFL offense.
College: Stroud arrived at Ohio State as a 4-or 5-star recruit, depending on the recruiting service. He clawed his way through a rough childhood and didn't have the traditional youth training most future star quarterbacks receive. He eventually earned offers from multiple prestigious programs such as Michigan, Georgia, and Oregon. He redshirted his freshman year. In 2021 Stroud beat out Kyle McCord, Jack Miller, and No. 1 recruit Quinn Ewers (now at Texas battling Arch Manning) to earn the starting job. In his first season, he excelled, throwing for 4,435 yards and 44 TDs and finished 4th in the Heisman. However, Stroud was unable to beat Oregon and Michigan, and the Buckeyes missed the playoffs. In 2022 Stroud again had a good season, with 3,688 passing yards, 41 TDPs, earning third place in the Heisman. But as in 2021, he and the Buckeyes failed to beat Michigan. While Ohio State did lose to Georgia in the playoffs (the Peach Bowl), Stroud played extremely well.
Strengths: Stroud is an excellent all-around QB. His arm power isn’t on the level of Anthony Richardson or Will Levis but he throws tight spirals with good velocity that are catchable. From the far hash, his range on go balls is around 55-60 yards. Mechanically, he is calm and smooth, and displays accuracy to all levels of the field. Shows the confidence to fit passes into tight windows and consistently hits them. In the pocket, he displays the foot quickness to avoid sacks. Demonstrates good vision when out of the pocket and can find open receivers when the play breaks down. Has a tall and slender but sturdy frame that should be able to survive in the NFL. Some scouts questioned what appeared to be a reluctance to take off and run when necessary. Then in the 2022 Peach Bowl against No. 1 Georgia's stifling defense, Stroud was spectacular in all aspect of the game, passing for 348 yards, four TDs, no interception and 71 yards rushing, although the Buckeyes lost in the final moments, 44-41.
Weaknesses: On one hand he seems hesitant to use his legs. On the other hand, that discretion may lengthen his career. He should work on lower body technique when throwing deep or on the run — at least try to square up to maximize the pass. He does linger on primary receivers and NFL safeties will make him pay if he doesn't address that habit. For history buffs, Stroud was unable to win in the four biggest games of his career. He was 0-2 against rival Michigan. In the 2022 Michigan game, he consistently struggled on third down. Stroud spent his career in a QB-friendly offense with elite receivers, so a major question heading into the 2023 Draft is how he will transition to having less dominant receivers. One loss was to Georgia in the Peach Bowl, but Stroud was sensational in that 42-41 last-second defeat.
— Paul Duncan
Frankly: Our evaluation of Stroud is based on game tapes and input from scouts and coaches who watched hours of those tapes. We are discounting, or dismissing, the last-hour reports of a bad S2 Cognitive test. We think Stroud is the safest quarterback pick in the draft, both for here-and-now and into the future. His fate is in the hands of the Carolina Panthers, who traded into the first draft spot in search of the quarterback they deem best. When Alabama QB Bryce Young measured only 5-10 1/8 at the Combine, the probability increased that Stroud (6-3, 214) would be No. 1. There were rumors the Panthers even liked Florida's raw but athletic Anthony Richardson, but I'm not buying it. In his 17 years as an NFL coach, Carolina's Frank Reich's quarterbacks were between 6-4 and 6-6 (except for five games). If the Panthers have ANY concern about Young's diminutive size, selecting Stroud should be an easy decision. He may be the No. 1 QB prospect regardless.
— Frank Cooney
YEAR (GP/GS) CP-ATT CP% YDS TD INT CAR YDS AVG TD
2020: (3/0) 0-0 0.0 0 0 0 1 48 48.0 1
2021: (12/12) 317-441 71.9 4,435 44 6 32 -20 -0.6 0
2022: (13/13) 258-389 66.3 3,688 41 6 47 108 2.3 0
Total: (28/25) 575-830 69.3 8,123 85 12 80 136 1.7 1
Before College: Born in Rancho Cucamonga, CA (Oct. 3, 2021), Stroud was the youngest of four siblings. He formed an early and important bond with his father, a pastor, playing basketball and football as young as five. In middle school, his father was convicted and sentenced to 38 years in prison but C. J. stays in constant touch. Stroud went through a tough childhood, but his dad instilled in him a strong religious faith and a love of sports. Initially considered a 3-star prospect, Stroud shot up the recruiting rankings with a strong performance his senior year, throwing for 47 TDs and nearly 3,900 yards. When he won the prestigious Elite 11 in 2020 (previously won by Justin Fields, Tua Tagovailoa and Jameis Winston), offers from most major school came flooding in.
Personal: A devout and practicing Christian, Stroud says it is the “foundation of his life.” Stroud donated and volunteered for Hope to Dream, which donates beds, blankets, and pillows for children in need.
HISTORY — from Ohio State profile
• One of the top quarterbacks in the nation in 2021 and 2022
• A two-time Heisman Trophy finalist and Ohio State’s only two-time finalist (finalists were first named by the Heisman Trophy Trust in 1982)
• A two-time Big Ten Conference Offensive Player of the Year and quarterback of the year
• Also named Big Ten Freshman of the Year for a total of five Big Ten individual awards to tie for second all-time in conference history with Justin Fields and Orlando Pace and behind only Braxton Miller’s seven
• Second-team All-American in 2022 by Walter Camp Foundation, CBS Sports and American Football Coaches Association after earning third-team honors in 2021 (Associated Press) along with freshman All-America laurels (The Athletic)
• Also a finalist in 2022 for Walter Camp Player of the Year, the Maxwell Award and the Dave O’Brien Award
• 21-4 as an Ohio State starter
• Directed Ohio State to No. 9 ranking nationally in total offense (490.7 ypg) and No. 2 in scoring (44.2 ppg) as a third-year sophomore in 2022
• Led the best offense in the nation as a freshman in 2021 with Ohio State No. 1 nationally in total offense (561.5) and scoring offense (45.7) while also finishing No. 2 in passing efficiency and and No. 3 in passing offense (380.9 ypg)
• Has set 16 Ohio State passing and total offense records and an additional three Big Ten records: season passing yards (3,193) and season TD passes (34) in Big Ten games only in 2021; career pass efficiency (182.39)
• Led the nation in passer efficiency rating in 2022 (177.7) and was second in 2021 (186.6)
• Ranked second nationally in TD passes in 2022 (41) and third in 2021 (44)
• The first QB in Big Ten history to have back-to-back seasons with 30 or more touchdown passes
• His school records include single game yards (573 in 2021 vs. Utah); single game touchdown passes (6, two times vs. Michigan State and also vs. Utah); season completion percentage (71.9 in 2021); season (369.6 in 2021) and career passing yards per game (290.1); season and career 300-yard games (9 in 2021; and 15); season and career 400-yard passing games (5 in 2021); season and career passer efficiency rating (186.6 in 2021; and 182.39); consecutive pass completions (17 vs. Michigan State in 2021); and most games vs. Big Ten teams with five or more TD passes (seven)
• Total offense records include single game total offense (583 in 2021 vs. Utah); average total offensive yards for a season (367.9) and career (294.9)
• Set five Rose Bowl game records vs. Utah: 573 passing yards; six touchdown passes; 583 yards of total offense; TDs (6); and points (36) responsible for
• Spectacular, as well, against No. 1 Georgia in 2022 Peach Bowl with 348 passing yards, four TDs, no interceptions and 71 rushing yards in a last-second 42-41 defeat
• Honored five times as Big Ten’s Offensive Player of the Week and seven times in 2021 as Freshman of the Week
• A two-time Maxwell Award National Player of the Week in 2022: following six-TD, 361-yard game vs. Michigan State and also after five-TD, 297-yard game vs. Indiana
• Named Walter Camp National Player of the Week Nov. 21, 2021 after a spectacular first half against No. 7 Michigan State, when he completed 29-of-31 passes for 393 yards and a school record-tying six touchdowns
• The first Ohio State quarterback to throw five TD passes without an interception in back-to-back games (2021 vs. Rutgers and Maryland)
• Topped those 10 TDs in consecutive games without an interception by throwing 11 TD passes without an interception vs. nationally ranked Purdue and Michigan State, including a school record-tying six vs. MSU
• Entered the 2021 season without a collegiate pass attempt as he appeared in only three games as a true freshman in 2020: vs. Rutgers, vs. Michigan State and vs. Clemson in the CFP Semifinals
• Had a 48-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter vs. the Spartans in 2020
Honors and Awards
2022: Heisman Trophy finalist, Big Ten’s Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year and Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year; First-Team All-Big Ten (coaches and media); two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week; Team captain
2021: Heisman Trophy finalist; Big Ten’s Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year, Thompson-Randle El Freshman of the Year and Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year; First-team All-Big Ten (coaches and media); Seven-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week and two-time Offensive Player of the Week
• A five-star prospect who was rated as the nation’s No. 2 pro style quarterback and a top 50 player regardless of position
• Was one of the top performers at the Elite 11 Finals, earning MVP honors
• Had a spectacular senior season for Rancho Cucamonga and head coach Mark Verti, throwing for 3,878 yards and 47 touchdowns in 13 games
• Completed 66 percent of his passes
• Led Rancho Cucamonga to the state semifinals and a 9-4 record
• Amassed 6,221 yards passing as a starter during his junior and season seasons
• Had just 15 interceptions in 754 career pass attempts
• Played in the All-American Bowl on Jan. 4 in San Antonio
• Is the son of Coleridge and Kimberly Stroud, and has two older brothers, Isaiah and Asmar, and an older sister, Cieara
• Born Oct. 3, 2001