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Comp Picks is a season-long, weekly series that looks at the incoming rookie class from all angles, tying everything together with an NFL player comparison (or a combination of players) to contextualize upside and risk.
Junior, 6'3, 218 lbs
C.J. Stroud is a former four-star recruit from Rancho Cucamonga High School in California. He ranked as the #2 pro-style quarterback in the nation in 2020 after throwing for 6,569 yards and 70 touchdowns during his high school career. Stroud didn't get meaningful playing time in high school until his junior year, with his success culminating in a 47-touchdown, 3,878-yard, 9-interception senior year. Stroud enrolled at Ohio State in 2020, sitting behind Justin Fields for a year before taking over as the starting quarterback in 2021. In 2021, he earned a spot in New York as a Heisman finalist following his 4,435-yard and 44-touchdown season in which he completed nearly 72% of his passes. He entered 2022 as the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy and projects as a top-five selection in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Stroud's game relies on accurate, on-time passes, and luckily, those are two of his greatest strengths. Stroud is remarkably precise, consistently hitting tight-window throws to each level of the field. His deep ball is as effortless as his short game, making 40-yard throws look like layups. His feel for velocity and touch makes his deep ball one of the best in the country. Even his incomplete deep balls are placed in areas that only his receiver can get to, limiting his turnover-worthy throws and allowing the Ohio State offense to stay on the field. Stroud's accuracy will draw praise from NFL evaluators, but his ability to scan the field and tick through progressions will likely be the trait they fancy the most. Stroud has an innate ability to read the field both pre- and post-snap, and he is skilled at eliminating options against disguised coverages. He consistently moves to the third read on passing plays, resetting his feet and retaining good mechanics with each new progression.
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