College coach: C.J. Stroud better than Trevor Lawrence
Not since Andrew Luck in 2012, or perhaps even Peyton Manning in 1998, has there been a more “surefire,” “can’t-miss” quarterback prospect than Trevor Lawrence. Well, what if someone told you the Carolina Panthers have a chance at taking a kid who’s even better?
On Friday, The Athletic published its latest offering from reporter Bruce Feldman—who pieced together a 2023 mock draft using the intel of both college coaches and NFL sources. Feldman, noting that mocks are always an inexact science, based his projections on the inside information he’s received from those within the game over the past two months.
Atop his board and heading to the Panthers is Ohio State University star C.J. Stroud, who garnered some eye-opening praise from a decision maker in the collegiate ranks. The quote is as follows:
“His accuracy downfield is really special. He’s bigger than you think and faster and harder to sack than people realize. I thought he’s better than Trevor Lawrence. He’s such a pure passer and can make all the throws. He does really unique stuff. Watch some of the stuff he did against Michigan. There are two plays in that game, one on a deep go-ball and another on a corner route, where the DB undercuts it. It’s to the wide side of the field, and he just drops it in over the outside shoulder. Then, I’m watching him against Georgia, against those guys, and he was dominant in that game. We did our best to disrupt the timing, and he still got us. We played more aggressively at the line of scrimmage and he made a bunch of big plays. On third-and-11s, in real rough spots, he was able to improvise when it wasn’t there. If we didn’t match a pattern or cover a guy just right, he took advantage every time.”
Despite the Buckeyes loss, that game was the cherry on top of what was a ridiculously productive college career. Stroud—against the closest thing to an NFL defense—completed 23 of his 34 passes for 348 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.
That performance, evidently, was enough to get this particular coach thinking this year’s (prospective) first overall pick is better than 2021’s. Again, considering Lawrence was one of the most highly-touted passing prospects of all-time—and the fact that 2023’s class has no consensus No. 1 at position—that’s a special kind of compliment.
And, hey, given how chummy the Panthers were with Stroud during his pro day last week, maybe they’re seeing something very similar.
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WATCH: Highlights of Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud's pro day