HomeFootballC.J. Stroud 2023 NFL Draft profile: Fantasy Football scouting; best fits, Dynasty,...

C.J. Stroud 2023 NFL Draft profile: Fantasy Football scouting; best fits, Dynasty, advanced stats, more

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The youngest of four children, Coleridge Bernard “C.J.” Stroud IV was born into a basketball-playing family. The sport was Stroud’s first love too, but when he was spotted throwing passes twice as far as other kids when he was just nine years old, dominating youth football leagues became more fun. Not that he quit basketball — as a shooting guard for Rancho Cucamonga High School in suburban Los Angeles he nailed a game-winning 3-pointer to advance to the semifinals one year — but football was clearly his future. 

Overcoming personal hardships involving his father, Stroud led the Cougars to the playoffs in 2018 and 2019, but even before his 2019 season (298.3 yards per game and 47 passing touchdowns!) he started making the rounds at football camps and earned an invite to the 2019 Elite 11 Finals in Texas, where he gained notoriety for earning a perfect score on their simulated Pro Day — something no one had ever done before. Ohio State began recruiting him the next day. Stroud wound up as the No. 2-ranked pro-style quarterback recruit and a four-star prospect from 247Sports.

After sitting for a year behind Justin Fields, Stroud led the Buckeyes to back-to-back 11-2 seasons with a Rose Bowl win over Utah in 2021 and a one-point loss due to a missed field goal to eventual-champion Georgia in the 2022 playoff semifinals. Not only was he a Heisman Trophy finalist both years, but Stroud was also voted as the Big Ten Quarterback of the Year both seasons and finished his career second in Buckeyes history in both passing yards (8,123) and touchdowns (85) despite playing just the two seasons.

Age as of Week 1: 22 | Height: 6-foot-3 | Weight: 214 | 40-time: TBD

Comparable body-type to: Trevor Siemian

We’re breaking down everything you need to know about Young from a Fantasy manager perspective, including best fits, Dynasty outlook, measurables, scouting report, key stats, and an NFL comparison.

Dynasty outlook

Fantasy managers clamoring for quarterbacks who could run for a bunch of yards will immediately bypass Stroud. Though his mobility is underrated, it’s mostly limited to the pocket and not for zone-read runs. However, his ability to throw the forward pass is strong. He profiles as an immediate NFL starter thanks to his accuracy, decision-making and experience. His two years at Ohio State featured him throwing to a parade of top-shelf wide receivers, and his O-line protected him very well. The closer he gets to having capable pass catchers and a solid offensive line in the NFL, the better his chances of being called a top-12 Fantasy quarterback annually. However, a bad landing spot will make some pundits jittery, though such a destination could always improve over time. Expect Stroud to be a top-5 pick in Superflex/two-QB rookie-only drafts and a top-15 pick in one-QB rookie formats. The only way he’d be a consensus Fantasy pick in redraft leagues is if he lands in a terrific spot.

Best realistic Fantasy fits

Las Vegas Raiders

As silly as it sounds, Stroud feels like an upgrade over the 2022 version of Derek Carr. He would bring an accurate arm, better mobility, and better playmaking ability to the Raiders, who boast a loaded crew of pass-catchers, an improved offensive line and a savvy playcaller in Josh McDaniels whose offense should be adaptable to Stroud’s strengths. Stroud could warrant Fantasy attention from the jump here.

Carolina Panthers

D.J. Moore would finally have a quarterback who could throw with accuracy, and the offensive line is among the best to play behind among teams with a QB need. Frank Reich should be a good quarterback influence who would let Stroud handle more work than other coaches might, plus the Panthers might need their quarterback to handle a lot of the offense if they don’t discover a good run game.

Atlanta Falcons

You have to love the explosive playmakers the Falcons have collected. Pair them with a pretty good offensive line and Stroud could be explosive. Concerns about Arthur Smith’s potentially conservative nature might limit the pass attempts from game to game, but that’s only if the Falcons defense gets noticeably better.

Next-best Fantasy fits: Indianapolis, N.Y. Jets, Washington, Tampa Bay

Least-appealing Fantasy fits: Houston, Detroit, and Seattle because he’d have to wait a year to play

Scouting report

Strengths

  • Desired height for a quarterback with good enough leg strength.
  • Played 121 snaps under center, which is a lot for a college quarterback these days.
  • Polished, well-trained footwork won’t be a concern for coaching staffs. His feet were in sync with his eyes. Perhaps on occasion he was a little wide with his feet when he stepped in the pocket but he consistently had proper placement to create a solid base to throw from.
  • Though the Ohio State offense was schemed up for him a good portion of the time, there’s ample evidence of Stroud processing the defensive coverage pre- and post-snap, going through his reads and quickly making the right read often.
  • Good anticipatory thrower with keen sense of timing — and there’s still room for improvement. Both traits help him as a decisive passer who won’t hold the ball excessively long. This helped him on tight window throws.
  • Wasn’t pressure sensitive at all. In fact, Stroud had an uncanny ability to know the last possible second he had to move and/or throw before getting hit. He was constantly patient and cool in the pocket, rarely if ever left it too early, and his eyes stayed downfield all. the. time. This is a big-time trait coaches will love. 
  • Consistently threw with the proper velocity. Plenty of proof of him layering in bucket throws as well as firing rifle shots when the ball needed to quickly hit the target.
  • Very good accuracy and very good ball placement, especially on shorter throws as you would expect. Accuracy is there even when he throws off-platform, such as when he’s avoiding pressure or throwing while on the run. Blitzes didn’t affect him much, either.
  • Had a number of examples of being in sync with his receivers when plays broke down. Stroud will win on improvisational plays.
  • Excellent understanding of when to take a chance with the ball and when to live to see another play. Avoided sacks like picky children avoid vegetables. Only occasionally put the ball in harm’s way when defenses “sped him up” with pressure.
  • Good speed and good enough field vision on the rare occasions when he took off and ran.
  • Capable of running both an RPO/spread scheme and/or a West-Coast offense. Does have the size and arm talent to work out of a more complex system as well.
  • Durable. No reported injuries from his high school days. Claims to have “stressed” his rotator cuff in 2021 preseason camp and then sprained an AC joint in his right (throwing) shoulder in Week 1 of 2021, played on it for two games, then sat out one game (against Akron). Did not miss a game in 2022. 
  • Comes off as a humble, quiet young man in interviews. No reports of him getting into any trouble or partying too much. Spent a lot of time in church with his parents as a child. 

Concerns

  • Lean arms and lean upper body could present some issues given the physical nature of pro football.
  • Definitely benefited from throwing to Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, Jaxson Smith-Njigba and Marvin Harrison Jr. for the past two years. Though his accuracy can’t be denied, some will argue his receivers (and the scheme he played in) made him successful, especially in high-pressure situations.
  • Sometimes locked onto primary read a little too long, telegraphing throws and missing other options, but it wasn’t a constant and sometimes it worked out because the first read got open. This could lead to problems at the next level.
  • Arm strength is definitely good, but expect something more like Kirk Cousins than Josh Allen. He threw five passes of 40-plus Air Yards in 2022 (three for touchdowns) with a maximum of 45. He did max out at 51 Air Yards in 2021 (11 throws of 40-plus Air Yards last year, but completed just two).
  • Weird stat: Completed just 36.7% of his passes on throws of Air Yards of 13-to-15 yards, which ranked 94th among 98 qualifiers. He tried 30 of them. Coupled with a 30.0% off-target rate, that’s a little concerning. He was much better on both shorter throws (9 or fewer Air Yards) and deeper throws (16-plus Air Yards) than his contemporaries.
  • Needs work on selling his fakes in zone-read and play-action situations.
  • Stroud insists he can run (as have his coaches, who admitted to protecting him) but he passed up running opportunities quite a bit and defenses really never guarded against his legs. There are examples of plays where he threw the ball away when he could have run for numbers. His high school rushing totals suggest he didn’t run much then either (328 rushing yards and six rushing scores in four years).
  • Worst game was in a blustery rainstorm at Northwestern and could be subject to trouble if weather is bad.

Stats breakdown

G Cmp% PaYds Yds/Att PaTD PaINT RuAtt RuYds RuAvg RuTD
2022 13 66.3 3688 9.5 41 6 47 108 2.3 0
2022 v Top-25 4 69.8 1274 8.6 9 2 23 37 1.6 0
Career 26 69.3 8123 9.8 85 12 80 136 1.7 1

Advanced stats to know

  • Finished top five in 2022 among qualifying QBs (98 passers with at least 250 attempts) in yards per attempt (9.5), TD rate (10.5%), TD-INT ratio (6.83 to 1), and passing efficiency (177.7). He was better than Bryce Young in each category.
  • Threw to his running backs 4.6% of the time in 2022, 97th out of 98 qualifiers.
  • Off-target on 12.6% of his throws, 42nd among all qualifiers (only 2.6% worse than Bryce Young, who was seventh-best).
  • 10.3 ADOT, 12th among qualifiers.
  • Two interceptions over 124 career red-zone pass attempts, and ZERO interceptions over 53 attempts inside the 10 (both better than Young).
  • 47.2% career TD rate on passes thrown inside of 10 yards (Young’s was 48.5%).
  • When pressured completed 41.3% of his throws with 21.3% off-target for 5.7 yards per attempt, per Pro Football Focus. Young was better in all three categories.
  • 66.3% completion rate, 20th best among qualifiers (and better than Bryce Young).
  • 50.8% completion rate on throws of 20-plus Air Yards, third-best among qualifiers (Young was 18th).
  • 56.0% completion rate on throws of 10-19 Air Yards, 45th among qualifiers (Young was third).
  • 56.0% completion rate specifically on throws of 16 or more Air Yards, third-best among qualifiers (Young was 46th).
  • 75.9% completion rate on throws of 9 or fewer Air Yards, 19th-best among qualifiers (Young was 74th). 
  • Had 215 yards on easy throws — quick outs, WR screens, backfield outs and shovel passes (Young had 212).
  • 121 snaps from under center (15th most in the nation; (Young had four).
  • Excluding kneel-downs and sacks, averaged 3.3 yards per rush, 42nd among qualifying QBs.

NFL comparison

Stroud’s accuracy and pocket coolness reminds me a lot of Joe Burrow and Joe Montana. But I keep coming back to Kirk Cousins: Accurate, tall, will run when absolutely necessary, doesn’t have a cannon but can get the ball 40 yards downfield, can survey a defense well. Stroud does have Cousins beat in terms of dealing with the pass rush, and I do expect Stroud to be more clutch than Cousins.

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