There is no debate that C.J. Stroud is the No. 1 quarterback prospect and should be the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft. At the NFL Combine, Stroud presented himself in a way that exuded confidence that any NFL decision maker should take notice to from the time he stepped up to the podium for the interviews, all the way until his last throw.
Stroud has a stoic nature about him. He speaks with confidence. His personality is exactly what an NFL team would want. In a marathon of a season there needs to be a sense of level headedness at the position. The Buckeye signal-caller brings that to the table in combination with the physical traits needed to excel at the NFL.
Looking at the entire package in one weekend with every other quarterback prospect side by side with Stroud was everything that should have been expected from the jump. The size, arm strength, and personality is that of an NFL quarterback. No need to “flash the cannon” or be “faster than Kyle Pitts.” He plays quarterback, and that is what defines Stroud.
There were never any questions about Stroud’s size. He has the height and carries his weight well. When it comes to looking at what should go into a No. 1 pick – especially when it’s a quarterback – the size traits are a key variable.
When a quarterback has to inflate themselves to weigh in at a certain threshold, that is not sustainable. Looking below at each quarterback’s measurement in the first pick conversation, there is one outlier... and it’s not C.J. Stroud.
2023 Quarterback Draft Prospect Measurements
|C.J. Stroud||Bryce Young||Will Levis||Anthony Richardson||NFL Avg.|
|C.J. Stroud||Bryce Young||Will Levis||Anthony Richardson||NFL Avg.|
|214 LB||204 LB **||229 LB||244 LB||219.8 LB|
|10"||9 1/2"||10 3/4"||10 1/2"||9 7/10"|
Obviously, Anthony Richardson and Will Levis are in the highest percentile in height and weight, with hand sizes above 10 inches. Stroud is not far behind in any of the physical traits, where Young is significantly behind all three. Only two current quarterbacks in the NFL stand under 6 feet tall, and when compared to the average, Stroud is most in line.
There are obvious advantages to being 6-foot-4 and 230-plus pounds, but that is not a prerequisite to success, while being under 6-feet tall tends to lead to disappointment at the quarterback position.
Stroud did not run at the combine, which is not surprising given the fact his main sales pitch are his capabilities throwing the football. Over the course of his career, Stroud showed incredible accuracy, but there were questions about the velocity he possessed on throws. In a drill where the quarterbacks threw the ball at a radar gun, Stroud was only a single mile per hour slower than Richardson, who is being touted for his arm talent.
When it came to showing off the cannon, Stroud did not disappoint either. Throughout the day, Stroud showed his ability to place the football and change the velocity on each throw. With all of the additional pressure of throwing behind the cannon-armed Richardson, Stroud did more than hold his own.
In the first throw Stroud had on the deep ball, he under threw it just a tad. Immediately following that, he hit a receiver in the hands and then dropped the ball in the basket, which is what we see above. There is nothing more elegant than an incredible deep ball. That elegance also showed that there should be no questions about Stroud’s arm strength.
The throw that showed Stroud at his best was his touch throw on the post-corner route. Stroud took a smooth drop, and put the ball perfectly over the receiver’s shoulder allowing for an easy catch in bounds. This is an unrealistic throw in a game, but the touch translates which Stroud has already showed throughout his career.
Comparing Stroud’s performance to top signal callers in the draft, Young did not throw. Richardson and Levis had a mix of wow throws inline with some bad misses. Stroud was consistent and on point with all but a few throws. The consistency is where Stroud separated during the workout. With the two most important traits of an NFL passer being consistency and ball placement, Stroud separated himself again.
In the presser, Stroud showed the quiet confidence that endeared himself to his teammates and coaches. Without having to say something catchy about his arm strength or his athleticism, Stroud commanded the room. He was honest about parts of his game he didn’t show as much, including the amount he ran the ball. In sharing his mindset about making sure all of his teammates ate, he showed the NFL the game is about more than his accomplishments.
When looking at Stroud, he showed a level of maturity that two of other three quarterbacks lacked. In comparison to Young, specifically, who only had two jobs this week, Stroud showed there was more to him than the X’s and O’s robot. Seeing Stroud comfortable talking to the press was a big step, as many fans will attest he was not always the greatest at understanding the moment of conversation. At the combine he put those questions to ease, and showed the NFL he can be a face of a franchise.
Comparing careers to the other top prospects, the Buckeye signal-caller clears everyone except Young. Young has a conference title, was part of a national championship team, and won the Heisman. There are ways to look at this, but he never won a title as the starter. His ability to create out of nothing mesmerized award voters, and he came up huge beating Georgia in the SEC Championship.
Stroud does not have that notable win under his belt, losing to Michigan twice and falling a field goal short against Georgia is what his legacy record-wise will be. What Stroud does have is countless games where he put on clinics with accuracy. At the end of the day outside of the award hardware, Stroud never had any stretches where he was not able to show the NFL his ability to play quarterback and help a team win. Even the bad weather game against Northwestern, he took the game into his own hands by using his feet to put away the Wildcats.
Comparing Stroud’s career to Will Levis, there is a significant difference in the fact Stroud won the job in his first opportunity. Levis transferred schools and showed his talents off at Kentucky, but lacked the consistency of Stroud as well as Young. The same goes for Richardson, who would lose confidence in throwing the ball and would opt to just avoid throwing all together at times. That is not the consistency that a team in the NFL should bet on.
That is why Stroud solidified his place as the best quarterback prospect in the draft. There are reasons to like a lot of quarterback prospects in this class, but if you’re a team looking for a quarterback who brings every tool to the table, Stroud is the only one who checks every single box.
Stroud is comparable to the NFL average in size measurements, and there is no question that his size will change — that is the difference between him and Young. When it comes to throwing the football, Stroud can make every throw on the football field with touch, velocity, or in between. That is the difference between him and Levis as well as Richardson.
NFL teams will need to make a decision. They draft on projection as well as upside a lot of the time. Stroud has the confidence and self-awareness to be the face of a franchise, now it is up to an NFL team to make the right decision, and make C.J. Stroud the first quarterback taken.