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Why CJ Stroud is the top QB prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft heading into college season

Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Alabama’s Bryce Young may be the defending Heisman Trophy champion, but Ohio State’s CJ Stroud is clearly the top four of college football’s 2023 NFL draft Shooting prospects.

History shows that college hardware does not automatically equate to future success. It’s been happening a lot lately, but Robert Griffin III, Johnny Manzier, Marcus Mariota and Baker Mayfield (so far) haven’t translated into professional play and served as a warning.

That’s not to say Young isn’t a quality prospect. But, based on his work as part of the nation’s most successful football program, he can’t automatically be pushed above other quarterbacks on the draft board.

The fact that Stroud and Young were even featured as top draft picks in early conversations was a wonderful change of pace because This year’s signal callers can be described as the worst of the century.

“It’s a very, very weak class,” an AFC personnel director told Heavy’s Matt Lombardo. “Everyone knows it all the time, but everyone wants to sell those guys to each other.”

As a result, some franchises The operator is in desperate need of an injection of talent at the center position, with an eye toward next April. This can benefit the entire class. Kentucky’s Will Reeves, Miami’s Taylor Van Dijk, Florida’s Anthony Richardson and Stanford’s Tanner McGee should all be in the first-round combination. But Stroud should lead the way as a real good, overall potential first. Ultimately, the conversation will depend on Young vs. Stroud, as they are for the outstanding pipeline Two of the most compelling prospects for program effectiveness. They finished first and fourth, respectively, in last year’s Heisman voting. Their situation has now turned slightly, with Stroud being the top bet for the award this season. Stroud’s physical tools, skills, production and growth potential put him at the top of this year’s harvest . Stroud and Young’s physiques are day and night, and may well prove to be the biggest difference in their evaluations. The former is 6’3″ and 218 pounds, while the latter is 6’0″ and 194 pounds.

2021 Heisman Trophy finalists – left to right: Aidan Hutchinson of Michigan, Kenny Pickett of Pittsburgh, CJ Stroud of Ohio State and University of Alabama Bryce Young. (Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Young’s height is no longer an issue as it once was. After all, the offense is often played out of shotguns, and shorter options in the league have been successful lately.

But when it comes to NFL shocks, Young’s slight physique will be a major concern. Jim McMahon (6-foot-1, 195 pounds) in 1982 was the last first-round quarterback in the past 40 years to weigh less than 200 pounds. Players like Mayfield (6-foot-1, 215 pounds), Kyler Murray (5-foot-10, 207 pounds) and Russell Wilson (5-foot-11, 215 pounds) are the shorter four Shooting backs, but they’re thick. They can generate massive torque in their lower body and hips because of the frame they squat.

In addition to typical NFL size standards, the Stroud layer threw to all three levels. The 20-year-old passer is especially good at getting the ball into the field. His pure arm might not be on the level of Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes, but he should be considered the next level.

Deep passing is also a by-product of time and touch. According to Pro Football Focus, Stroud was college football’s most accurate deep passer heading into bowl season. The reigning Big Ten offensive player of the year then threw 573 yards and six touchdowns in a Rose Bowl win over Utah Utah.

It is important to distinguish between the two to ensure the numbers are not skewed by historical performance . “I said to CJ, he really threw the ball in there. The best way is to be like Russell Wilson,” Former teammate and first-round wide receiver Garrett Wilson told the Big Ten Network last year (h/t The Lantern ‘s Jacob Benge).PFF also rated Stroud with a 67.6% accurate pass rate Top 10 quarterbacks last season.

NFL evaluators will start salivating at a quarterback who navigates pockets, keeps eyes low and always Consistently deliver the ball in a smooth, compact manner.

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Young is not lazy. He has a great feel for the game, a great touch in planning and creativity outside of structure. But his size remains a sticking point. Meanwhile, Levi’s brings the best size combo (6’3″, 232 lbs ) And raw arm talent, and two years of study under current or former NFL offensive coordinators Liam Coen and Rich Scangarello at Kentucky. Van Dijk was outstanding in the second half of last season. He must repeat that performance throughout the season .Richardson possesses numerous elite athletic traits. Finally, McGee is a 6-foot-6 pro quarterback from Stanford University who must help the program shake off the malaise of the past three seasons.

To take the next step, Stroud just needs to build on what he’s already done. Last season, the Ohio State starter Player becomes the only player at the FBS level to rank in completion percentage (71.9), passing yards (4,435), passing touchdowns (44), yards per attempt (10.1) and quarterback rating (186.6) Top 5 quarterbacks).

Anything near or above these numbers will cement Stroud’s position, not only Is the top quarterback prospect and the No. 1 pick (yes, even more than Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. for position value).

The third-year signal caller knew he had to improve in some areas, especially in leading the offense and making a bigger voice in the locker room.

” he was talking. He was more mature. He wants to win,” wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba told reporters. “You know, we’re all pissed off. He’s a contender and nobody wants to win more than him, and he wants to take it to the whole team and spread it. ” Head coach Ryan Day added: “I think CJ has really improved his leadership this year, and he’s very good at everything.” There’s a broader view of what’s happening, not just his work. He almost sees it as a coach now. The first thing I know about him is that he wants to win, everything else is secondary. That’s how he practiced. “ Better understanding and increased comfort on offense should speed up Stroud’s progress. Like most young fours Like the shooting guard, the one-year starter will likely finish his first reading sooner and progress through his progression until his view of the court becomes more natural.

The current set-up of the Buckeyes presents a major task, and Stroud needs to grow in the program while taking on more responsibilities with a redesigned supporting cast. Now the focus of the offense. Everything flows through him and how he distributes the ball.

Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba beat Buckeyes 48-45 Received a touchdown reception during the Rose Bowl in Utah, Utah.(Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Ohio State is still very good at catchers Talent, there’s Smith Njiba, Marvin Harrison, Julian Fleming and Emeka Egbka. But this team is far less experienced than it was last year, when two first-rounders— – Wilson and Chris Olaf – on either side of the formation. Essentially, the roles were reversed, with Stroud turning his target into high-end prospects.

Stroud fits the archetype of a professional quarterback. His characteristics as a passer are obvious. He is playing at the highest level possible and playing at the top level. He has ample opportunity to build an already impressive resume. Maybe Stroud will even claim his own Heisman trophy.

Either way, this season should be Stroud’s crown as the nation’s best quarterback and a top pick for 2023, even if he doesn’t carry 45-pound Ed Smith Shaped cast copper left.

Brent Sobleski covers the NFL for the Bleacher Report. On Twitter Follow him on @brentsobleski.



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