With the Houston Texans season looking like it’ll end in obtaining the first overall selection; and their need for a QB in this upcoming draft, we need to evaluate Ohio State’s quarterback CJ Stroud and whether or not he would be a good fit.
Stroud has had a very decorated time at Ohio State. In 2021 he was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of The Year as well as a Heisman Trophy Finalist. He also set the Ohio State record with 573 passing yards in a game, more on that later. Stroud offers an impressive blend of arm talent, size, natural instincts, and anticipation as a thrower.
His biggest weakness so far has been his lower body consistency – his footwork is shaky at best, often throwing off his back heels, and he wastes a lot of motion dancing in the pocket which leads to off-balanced throws and a decline in his accuracy.
CJ Stroud A System Quarterback?
My initial thought is that CJ Stroud has benefited from having an elite receiving core to throw to, a quick RPO system, and a light schedule. I think Stroud has a very talented arm but will need the right coaching and system to turn him into a long-term NFL starter.
Since being the starter at Ohio State, CJ has gotten to throw to future first-round wide receivers Marvin Harrison Jr., Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba. This is most likely the most talented receiver group he will ever throw to and that means that when we look at his tape, we need to look at it through the same lens as we graded Joe Burrow and Mac Jones- who each had at least two future 1st round wideouts at their disposals.
Per Sports Reference:
CMP% Atts Yards TDs Ints RTG
Joe Burrow 2019 76.3% 527 5,671 60 6 202
Mac Jones 2020 77.4% 404 4,500 41 4 203.1
CJ Stroud 2021 71.9% 441 4,435 44 6 186.6
Naturally,CJ Stroud’s stats were all below Mac and Joe’s, and some of that is due to the sheer talent of the Alabama and LSU teams he is being compared to, but a few statistics do stick out as alarming. For starters, CJ turned the ball over more and completed a lower percentage of his passes. Where I think we will see this play out in the tapes to follow are that he can struggle at times with ball placement, process speed, decision-making, and timing. Historically, a quarterback’s completion percentage gets worse when they enter into the NFL, and dropping from 71.9% could be vastly detrimental for the franchise he ends up with; but this is mainly an indicator of some of his flaws, most gravely his accuracy.
Joe and Mac also faced better defenses and provided big-time moments in big-time games against big-time defenses. I think CJ’s stats may have been inflated by the previously mentioned factors. That being said, I think CJ Stroud can turn into a successful NFL QB with the right system and situation. Is that the Houston Texans?