INDIANAPOLIS – There was a lot to unpack from CJ Stroud’s interview session from the NFL Scouting Combine on Friday morning. The two-year starter at Ohio State had one of the largest crowds around him of the entire day and was asked a range of questions both looking forward to the NFL as well as looking back to his time at Ohio State, a career that may not be fully appreciated by everyone quite yet.
There is a lot of debate as to who will be not only the first quarterback to come off the board but who will be the first player to come off the board in the 2023 NFL Draft, something that Stroud has a chance to do and that would make him the first overall number one pick from Ohio State since Orlando Pace.
But even with all of that, there are some fans that still few Stroud through a clouded lens. During his two-year run as starter the Buckeyes did not win the Big Ten, did not win a National Championship nor did they play for one, even if they came oh-so-close in 2022.
Stroud is aware of that and has his own share of regrets when it comes to how things went down.
First and foremost, comes the question of running the ball or the lack of running the ball.
“I didn’t do it a lot in college, and I feel like I should have. It’s something I do regret,” Stroud said. “I feel like I could have done it a lot more. But I think when you turn on the film and you really watch what I do, and you really look at film game to game, I have used my athleticism not only just in the Georgia game where I did it a lot. I’ve done it in every other game.”
Passing windows will be tighter in the NFL, pass protection may hold up for a shorter window of time, all things that could and should force Stroud to use his mobility more in the highest level of the game.
“I’ve done it before on film, but since people don’t think I can do it, I’m going to do it again,” Stroud added.
It is almost an opposite situation of what former Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields is going through in Chicago with the Bears. He is really now viewed by many as a run-first quarterback and that the passing is just not there. Stroud was quick to step up for his predecessor.
“You get hit so hard, so many times hard in the face,” Stroud said. “You have to make plays with your feet and he ain’t no damn running back. He’s a quarterback and he can sling that rock. So I’m going to stand up for my brother every time and he’s going to do great things in his career, and I’m excited to play with him.”
Some will be quick to point out how the Buckeyes were not able to win the big one under Stroud, but those who really watched the team would know that the defense had more than its part in a few of those losses.
If a couple of games go a little differently, we are looking at Stroud differently and he could be coming into the draft as one of the most highly decorated players in recent memory.
“I feel like I could have won Heismans back-to-back if I win those two (Michigan) games,” Stroud said. “But I think it’s part of God’s plan and I don’t question that. It put a little more fire on me, put another chip on my shoulder.”
Stroud left eligibility on the table with Ohio State, but it seemed like an obviously conclusion that he would go pro after the end of the 2022 season. But if you take what Stroud says at face value, it was not as easy as just waking up one day and moving on to the next chapter.
“I was honestly going to come back to school,” Stroud added. “It was really hard for me to leave a place like Ohio State where it takes time to get to where I was at. It takes a lot of heart and a lot of trust-building and a lot of camaraderie off the field. It’s something you can’t just throw in the trash right away.”
Find out what Stroud had to say during his media availability from the NFL Scouting Combine and keep it locked in here to BuckeyeHuddle for all of the updates.