One of the most intriguing 2023 NFL Draft decisions this year was Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud. Collegiate sports were changed forever when athletes were eligible to sign NIL deals and there was a chance it would lead to Stroud remaining a Buckeye.
College’s version of free agency has ensued as schools are pitching themselves to not only high school athletes in recruitment. More importantly, they now have to pitch NIL deals to their players to convince them to stay instead of transfer. It is a delicate balance bringing in top-rated high school players while keeping your established players, a dance Ohio State has taken part in.
The pitch to C.J. Stroud was a different one. Unlike a majority of his peers, he has a chance to be a top pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Ultimately, that appeal was too much to overcome as he announced via Twitter that he is forgoing the rest of his eligibility and declaring for the draft.
Ohio State reportedly tried hard to build a NIL deal for him to remain in school, but it ended up not being enough. The Buckeyes just couldn’t overcome the appeal of NFL money, as C.J. Stroud could make north of $40 million on his first contract should he be selected in the top two. With a lower salary cap in 2022, every player selected inside the top six signed a deal worth at least $30 million.
Given how the draft board shook out near the top and which teams need quarterbacks, there is a strong chance that C.J. Stroud is selected within that range. He and Alabama quarterback Bryce Young are considered the top prospects in this year’s draft class.
In two years at Ohio State as the starter, C.J. Stroud completed 69.3 percent of his pass attempts for 8,123 yards and 85 touchdowns, throwing only 12 interceptions. He is regarded as an elite pocket passing presence and is looking to shake the Ohio State stigma that has been attached to quarterbacks from the school previously.