Yahoo Sports' Charles McDonald and The Athletic's Nate Tice discuss Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud, who most expect to be selected within the first handful of picks in the 2023 NFL Draft. Stroud put up massive numbers at Ohio State and has great physical attributes and mental ability, but should he be considered the top quarterback prospect in the draft over Alabama QB Bryce Young?
CHARLES MCDONALD: All right, CJ Stroud, Ohio State quarterback, he's an interesting guy to me, because I feel like, if you were just to just, like, look at the stats, and just, like, look at him, and watch him throw sometimes, you'd be like, OK, well, this guy seems like the unquestioned number one overall pick, but then you actually watch him play--
NATE TICE: Clean, yeah.
CHARLES MCDONALD: Yeah, he looks clean, right? And then you watch him play, and for CJ, leading up into the Georgia game, one of my criticisms was, like, it's almost too clean. Like, you're not doing a whole lot of stuff off platform, off pressure, when things break down, it's starting to crumble around you. Like, that Northwestern game is burned into my brain.
And then he has the game against Georgia, which we all saw was the best team in the country, where he just played like a totally different quarterback. What are your overarching thoughts on CJ Stroud?
NATE TICE: I mean, you kind of were hitting on the head. When I watched him last spring, and really studied him a year ago, that was what I had. I was like, I just want to see him create a little bit more, because he's just so smooth. His operation time is good. You can tell he understands what's trying to happen on each concept.
But then it was like, can you just run? Can you not just, like, scoot out of the pocket and just throw the ball away? Can you, like, just try something? Just try something.
And I wrote an article, kind of a preview of all these guys last year, and I thought maybe I did an update like in October, and I was thinking, all right, I'm gonna watch two or three games, and I'm gonna see how he's improved, and he was the exact same player.
And do think that he's gotten a little bigger compared to last year. I feel like he's put on maybe five, seven pounds. Like, he just looks a little thicker, which, of course, after just hearing me talk about Bryce Young, I'm gonna bring up with Stroud. I also think he is a little bigger than people realize. He's, like, a 6'3'', 220 kind of build which is always good.
He does a lot of things well, but nothing outstanding, and I think that's where we've seen some comparisons to, like, a glorified Jared Goff, you know, that can run a little bit is, like, kind of his upside. And I kind of agree with that. The Georgia game is an eye opener, because it's like, oh, you do have this in your bag.
If he played like that the whole year, he's easy, unquestioned number one pick, because he's so clean with everything else. But I think that's what it is. I really like him. He is my number one-- he's my QB1, because I just do like that he does so much well. He checks a lot of boxes. He seems mature in all the kind of intangible stuff.
But I am curious, like, was the Georgia game an outlier, as far as game style, or is that kind of Ohio State going, like, hey, let's save it until it matters, you know, and I've gotta to figure these things out. And, hopefully, if you grade to the flash of that Georgia game, then it's like, yeah, I think this guy is easily the number one, because he just does so much well.
CHARLES MCDONALD: Yeah, I remember, going into that game, I was just confident that they were gonna shut CJ Stroud down. I was like, if you can just survive the Marvin Harrison stuff, then you will probably--
NATE TICE: Make him create! He won't do it!
CHARLES MCDONALD: Right. And the thing is, like, they did force him to create. Like, it wasn't like it was a clean game. Jalen Carter was getting a lot of pressure, their blitzes were getting through, and all of a sudden, like, he just kind of got some Bryce Young to him in that game.
NATE TICE: He was a different. He was a totally different player. And it was awesome. It was awesome. I mean, good for him. Like, I know you're a Georgia fan, but it was like, I wanted to see another game of Ohio State, with him playing like that, because it was like, this is awesome! Let's keep doing this!
I don't know, he always just leaves me wanting a little bit more, even though he does so much well, so it's kind of is he that needle mover, or is he just fine, and that's what I think guys are gonna have to determine.
Right now, I have him at QB1. I sound like I hate him, but I actually really do like him. It's just that, when you're taking these guys number one overall, you want them checking every single frickin' box.
CHARLES MCDONALD: Would you feel comfortable taking Stroud at number two, where the Texans are sitting?
NATE TICE: I would. I do have a true first round grade on him, so, you know, you've got the half round inflation with quarterbacks, and I have no qualms with whoever team takes him, because I understand why.
He feels like there's the star-starter, bench-bust kind of, like, breakdown. Some guys have 5% star, but 50% starter, like, probability. That's how he feels. It's like, I feel like he has a high likelihood of being at least a mid-level starter, with some room for growth, which isn't the worst thing in the world to take top five.
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