Look, I don’t know a great deal about the mechanics of playing quarterback; I don’t know what it takes to put together an NFL, but one thing I do know is that C.J. Stroud has all of the skills to be an elite professional quarterback.
I am not a QB expert, nor am I a player personnel savant, but one thing I am is a human being who happens to have eyes. I have watched every throw that Stroud has made during his college football career, and there is no doubt that he has all of the tools necessary to be an elite, All-Pro level quarterback at the NFL level.
So why, over the last few weeks when nary a snap of football has been played, has he seemingly gone from being a potential No. 1 overall pick to someone that supposed NFL scouts are saying could drop in favor of something called a Will Levis?
I know the tired, absolutely idiotic excuse is that Ohio State has never produced an impactful NFL starting quarterback — even though I think Justin Fields qualifies at this point. — but that is lazy and dumb. How good of NFL players Mike Tomczak and Bobby Hoying really shouldn’t be a factor in how good Stroud is.
Yet, here we are, another year with a Buckeye signal caller clearly one of the best players in the draft, another year where bafoonish NFL “insiders” and football “experts” go out of their way to poke holes in what literally anyone who has eyes — as I have already established that I do — can see if they watch the games.
They did it with Fields in 2021, and they are doing it with Stroud now. Is it just smoke screens being sent out by NFL front offices hoping to dissuade teams ahead of them from taking Stroud? Is it media members trying to say something controversial to guarantee themselves more air time? Is it guys trying to make a name for themself attempting to get more social media engagement in order to boost their profile? Is it lazy analysts who think that no Buckeye QB can play in the league? Is it folks who hate Ohio State? Is it Neanderthals who think that Black quarterbacks can’t succeed in pro football?
I don’t know; probably all of the above, but it is dumb, whatever the reason. Two years ago, I wrote a column just minutes after the Chicago Bears selected Justin Fields with the No. 11 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft (in fairness, I had most of it written ahead of time and just filled in the team details once the pick was in). It was obviously satire — even though I still get occasional emails calling me an idiot from Bears’ fans after Justin has an especially impressive game — and it calls into question the extreme lengths some of these “unnamed sources” will go, especially when they are aided and abetted by seemingly credible members of legacy media organizations (I’m looking at you Todd McShay).
While the conversation around Stroud hasn’t yet risen to the insanity level that we saw around Fields — this S2 cognitive test bullshit is getting close though, and we still have two days until the draft starts, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ — it has still been absolutely maddening to see a guy who clearly can make every throw and have shown up in every major game see his draft stock slide for no real reason.
Is C.J. Stroud a perfect quarterback? No. Is C.J. Stroud ready to lead an NFL team to a Super Bowl right this second? Probably not. Is C.J. Stroud the most personable and charismatic player to come through Ohio State in recent years? He is not, but who cares?
What C.J. Stroud is, is a guy who has proven that he can do just about anything that you can ever ask of a quarterback. He has dominated inferior opponents; he has shined when the lights are the brightest; he has shown that he can make every throw; he has demonstrated that he is able to run with the ball in his hands.
The one legitimate knock, I suppose, on him is that despite playing well against the likes of Michigan, Georgia, and Oregon, he didn’t win the biggest games of his college career. And while I would put those losses far more on the Ohio State defenses than on the quarterback, if that is your main knock against Stroud, let me ask you a question.
How did Will Levis do against the top teams on his schedule? What about Anthony Richardson? I’ll give you Bryce Young — even though I think Stroud is a better pro prospect — but any other QB that you think you can develop into an elite NFL signal-caller is miles behind Stroud at this point in every imaginable metric.
So, if you are one of these talking heads or “unnamed sources familiar with the front office’s thinking” who is trying to prop up a quarterback other than Stroud to be taken after Young is off the board, it’s time to sit down and shut up, you are telling on yourself.
Ohio State QBs to throw for 6 TDs in a game:— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) April 24, 2023
• Kenny Guiton
• J.T. Barrett (2x)
• Dwayne Haskins (2x)
• Justin Fields
• . . (3x)
Relive the #NFLDraft2023 prospect's @OhioStateFB record trio of 6-TD days ⤵️.