C.J. Stroud should have easily been ahead of Micha Parsons

It's wild to think the best young quarterback in the league isn't at number one.
Dallas Mavericks v Utah Jazz
Dallas Mavericks v Utah Jazz / Alex Goodlett/GettyImages

CBS recently published a new list of the Top 25 Players 25 and Under. Their top five were New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner at number five. Number four was the Detroit Lions tackle Penei Sewell. Jamar Chase of the Cincinnati Bengals was at number three, while Micha Parsons of the Dallas Cowboys was at number two. Taking the top slot was Justin Jefferson, a wide receiver from the Minnesota Vikings.

Yet, C.J. Stroud was nowhere to be seen in the top 5. You'd have to go back to number nine to find him. Right behind CeeDee Lamb, Jaylen Waddle, and Amon-Ra St. Brown. None of whom I'd put over Stroud. Not as "better", more "impactful" or even more "important". In any quantifiable measurement, Stroud is better than everyone on this list.

The only player on the whole list, the entirety of it, that has a shot at matching Stroud's level of importance is Parsons. The Dallas Cowboys linebacker is a great defensive player, no one should ever dispute that. Yet, is a linebacker more important than a quarterback? It's hard to argue that was ever the case, but it's certainly impossible to argue such an idea in 2024.

The impact a quarterback has on a team is pretty definitive. It's not a concept or question that's ever in doubt. We see teams win all the time when a linebacker gets hurt for a few games, or even longer. We see entire franchises collapse when a quarterback is out for half a year.

The sheer importance of a quarterback is that dramatic. Now, you can argue that Parsons, arguably one of, if not one of the five best linebackers in the game right now, is better at his position currently than Stroud is at his. That may be true. Parsons could be the best in the world at his position, while Stroud, at best, is only fifth.

Yet, the fifth-best quarterback still matters more to a team than the out-right best linebacker. And for that reason alone, Stroud should have been the number one.