C.J. Stroud is one of the best quarterback prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft -- certainly on his way toward becoming a top-five overall pick. Stroud has a massive arm, which he displayed at the NFL Combine, showing off his greatest strength as a prospect.
A two-time Heisman Trophy finalist, Stroud has the most passing touchdowns in a two-year span in Big Ten history (85). Ohio State led the FBS in points per game (45.0) and yards per game (526.0) in the past two seasons. The Buckeyes averaged 44.4 points per game in Stroud's starts as he became the fifth player in FBS history with multiple 40 passing touchdown seasons.
If Stroud is taken in the top 10 of the draft, he would be the first Big Ten quarterback taken in the top 10 since Kerry Collins in 1995. Where are the best fits for Stroud with the draft just over a month away? Here are seven ideal teams for Stroud to land with in 2023 and beyond:
1. Carolina Panthers
All eyes are on the Panthers, who gave up two first-round picks, two second-rounders and No. 1 WR D.J. Moore for the right to swap picks with the Bears and make the No. 1 overall selection. Reports are that owner David Tepper prefers Bryce Young while the coaching staff, including new head man Frank Reich, likes Stroud.
The Panthers met with Stroud before his Ohio State Pro Day, of which they had plenty of representation, and are set to bring in the Buckeyes standout for a top-30 visit, per NFL Media. But will they make Stroud the top pick? That remains to be seen.
2. Indianapolis Colts
Having a quarterback with a big arm seems to be a successful pairing with head coach Shane Steichen. Just ask Jalen Hurts and Justin Herbert how they progressed under Steichen's tutelage. If Stroud gets drafted by the Colts, he would benefit from a play-caller who caters to his strengths and would allow him to make explosive plays downfield.
Indianapolis has the No. 4 overall pick, so the Colts might have to move up a bit to get Stroud. Then again, if Anthony Richardson jumps Stroud and Bryce Young goes in the top two -- Stroud may be there at No. 4.
3. Houston Texans
Houston will have a decision to make with the No. 2 overall pick, as the Texans are certainly in play for any of the top quarterbacks on the board. Does new head coach DeMeco Ryans believe Stroud is a fit for Houston?
Stroud is the prototypical size for a quarterback the Texans have had in the past. New offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik was the passing game coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers and has worked with developing Brock Purdy into one of the most efficient rookie quarterbacks the league has seen in years.
Slowik will rely on the run, taking the pressure off Stroud in the early going. Results won't show right away, but Stroud would be in good hands in the long run.
4. Seattle Seahawks
Seattle re-signed Geno Smith, but the Seahawks could still benefit from having a young quarterback to develop. Seattle could hope that Stroud falls to No. 5, but the Seahawks would probably have to move up a spot or two in the draft to have an opportunity at Stroud.
Getting Stroud and his arm with offensive coordinator Shane Waldron would be crucial for success in the NFL. Just ask Smith how the last two years of his career have played out.
5. Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders signed Jimmy Garoppolo to replace longtime starter Derek Carr, but there's still a chance Las Vegas could draft a QB. The Raiders, who have the No. 7 pick, would have to move up a few spots to get Stroud, but he would be equipped to put up big numbers whenever he succeeds Garoppolo.
6. Detroit Lions
Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson certainly has revitalized Jared Goff's career over the past two seasons, making Goff one of the more efficient quarterbacks in the game. Goff is the quarterback for the Lions in 2023, but how much longer will he be the guy in Detroit?
The Lions are looking at quarterback options after Goff, as head coach Dan Campbell admitted at the combine. Is that quarterback in the first round (remember, Goff is only 28)? Stroud would immensely benefit under offensive coordinator Ben Johnson in Year 1 -- even if he is sitting on the bench.
Detroit has plenty of skill players and a strong offensive line for a young quarterback to succeed, along with an aggressive and innovative offense that tailors to a quarterback's strengths. The Lions would be excellent for Stroud at No. 6, but it's hard to see Stroud falling that far with all the teams that need a quarterback ahead of them.
7. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons may ride into 2023 with Desmond Ridder, but why not bring in a rookie signal caller to challenge him for the job? Even if Ridder starts the season, Stroud would eventually get the chance to play in Arthur Smith's offense. The Falcons are a run-first team, which will also help Stroud grow with a roster that doesn't have many pass catchers outside of Drake London and Kyle Pitts.
Atlanta would have to trade up in order to land Stroud (the Falcons have the No. 8 pick), but the Falcons have enough holes on their roster -- specifically on defense.