Monday, January 16, 2023

Top pick declared on deadline

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Ohio State Quarterback CJ Stroud announced Monday that he will be drafted in the 2023 NFL Draft. The second-year signal caller relinquishes his remaining three years of eligibility and goes pro. Stroud is leaving Columbus as one of the most decorated athletes in school history and will soon be joining Dwayne Haskins (2019) and Justin Fields (2021) as the third Buckeye quarterback selected with a first-round pick in the past five years. In a statement released to Taking to Twitter on Monday, Stroud said:

“The process was difficult and the decision one of the most difficult I have ever had to make. As a child I dreamed of playing football at the highest level and after much prayer I have made the decision that it is time to make those dreams a reality.”

Stroud went 21-4 as a starter at Ohio State and became the school’s only two-time Heisman Trophy finalist. Stroud was also a two-time Big Ten Offensive and Quarterback of the Year for 8,123 yards and 85 touchdowns. He is also the only player in Big Ten history to have 30 touchdowns in consecutive seasons. He was also a finalist for the Maxwell Award, Manning Award, Davey O’Brien Award, Walter Camp Player of the Year and Johnny Unita’s Gold Arm Award.

The announcement will be made on the day of the deadline for registering for the draft. With the list of eligible players finalized, teams will now focus on the draft judging process. Stroud’s decision to wait until the deadline to explain led many Ohio State insiders to speculate that he might have considered staying at Columbus for another season. Stroud joins a highly regarded quarterback draft class that includes Will Levis (Kentucky), Bryce Young (Alabama) and Anthony Richardson (Florida), all of whom are expected to start the first round early.

The Chicago Bears are expected to make trade offers on their coveted first overall pick. Though the Bears appear set to quarterback, GM Ryan Poles is dedicated to the drafting process and assesses the entire class. However, selecting a quarterback seems unlikely. Poles recently told reporters:

“We’re going to do the same thing we always do – we’re going to judge the draft class,” Poles said, “and I would say I’d have to be absolutely blown away to make a decision like that.”

With Justin Fields seemingly entrenched in his position, Stroud’s addition to the class could be a boon for Chicago. He jumps straight into the conversation for the first overall pick, and the competition to put together the most attractive trade package could heat up among these quarterback-needy teams.

The Indianapolis Colts, Las Vegas Raiders, Carolina Panthers and New York Jets are expected to pick quarterbacks in the first round of the April draft. The first overall pick has only been traded four times in league history. In 2001, the Falcons advanced one spot and selected Michael Vick. In the 1997 draft, the Rams gained 5 spots, picking up offensive tackle Orlando Pace. In 1995, the Carolina Panthers traded down, allowing the Bengals to capture Ki-Jana as the overall champion. In 1990, the Atlanta Falcons finally left the top spot because the Colts were able to select quarterback Jeff George.

The 2023 NFL Draft is scheduled to begin on April 27.

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