After a year of decline as a defender, 2023 NFL Draft promises to own many more prolific passers-by. While it’s very early in the process, and there’s a whole season of college football to help the cream climb to the top, CJ Stroud of Ohio and Project Bryce Young of Alabama will be on top. According to the latest episode of the PFN Premier NFL Draft podcast, one prospect may already be in first place ahead of the main company.
The advantage of CJ Stroud in the race for QB1 in the 2023 NFL draft
After a sensational first season as newcomers to their programs, Stroud and Young are part of the 2023 NFL draft cycle, which many see as the top two defenders in the class. They were both Heisman finalists less than six months ago, and both are among the college’s best football defenders in terms of statistics.
Alabama’s QB Young with 4,872 yards in the transition leads all CFB defenders returning, including Stroud. The same can be said about the landing: Young scored 47 passing points against 44 in Stroud. The Ohio State QB has been in the shadow of its rival since being drafted into high school. Young was a five-star prospect and the No. 2 player in the 2020 recruiting class. Stroud, a “just” rookie with 4 stars, was a rookie in 42nd place. Meanwhile, he was number 2 pro-style QB after DJ Uiagalelei Clemson.
However, as we approach the college football season and exploration begins for the 2023 NFL Draft, the Ohio Defender plans to become the best defender in the class. Although nationally the competition is considered close, there may already be a very obvious contender for the QB1 crown, according to NFL Draft PFN analysts.
“Personally, I don’t think it’s close,” PFN Draft analyst Ian Cummings said during a May 17 episode of the PFN Premier NFL Draft podcast. “I think it’s CJ Stroud, then Bryce Young and everyone else. Of course, there are many plays that stand out from last season, especially later. One thing you really want to see from a young player is linear growth. CJ Stroud came out later in the season and really boosted his game. “
Stroud grew into the best QB in the country ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft
This conversation was hardly possible in the first throws of the last football season in college. Stroud was baptized in combat early in his career in Ohio. Playing despite an injury during his first season at center, he was a scapegoat for some of the party’s nasty performances and was eventually sent to the bench.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and the young QB bounced back in style to finish the season second in the number of yards per attempt (10.1). He also finished third in the number of yards per game (369.6) in the 2021 football season. The statistics are impressive. However, that’s how Stroud put together those numbers that should ensure his ascent to the top of the defending class in the 2023 NFL Draft.
“Looking at what he does, looking at what you need to be a successful defender, CJ Stroud is big. He is balanced. He was very well oriented in his pocket. That was what really stood out. He is very instinctive when it comes to knowing when to act and when to dodge. For his size, he is an underrated athlete. He has accuracy. Could he be that conscientious guy from the first round who was missing in the previous class? Definitely, yes. “
There is no denying that Cummings’ final statement could apply to both Stroud and Young before the 2023 NFL Draft. However, Ohio’s QB ability to throw with precision and resilience combined with a size advantage (6’3 ″ versus the listed 6’0 ″ for Young, which is generous at best) and excellent handling give Stroud a clear advantage over his Alabama opponent in this future class.