Bears Draft: Top NFL QB Prospect Declares at Deadline

Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud

Getty C.J. Stroud #7 of the Ohio State Buckeyes awaits the snap against the Utah Utes during the first half of the Rose Bowl

Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud announced Monday, January 16, that he would be entering the 2023 draft. The sophomore signal-caller will forgo his remaining three years of eligibility and turn pro. Stroud leaves Columbus as one of the most decorated athletes in school history, and he is set to join Dwayne Haskins (2019) and Justin Fields (2021) as the third Buckeyes quarterback chosen with a first-round pick in the last five years.

“The process has been difficult, and the decision, one of the hardest I’ve ever had to make,” Stroud wrote in a statement on Twitter. “As a kid, I dreamed of playing football at the highest level and after much prayer, I’ve made the decision that it’s time to turn those dreams into a reality.”

Stroud went 21-4 as a starter at Ohio State and finished as a two-time Heisman Trophy finalist. In addition, Stroud was a two-time Big Ten offensive player, and quarterback of the year, throwing for 8,123 yards and 85 touchdowns. He is also the only player in Big Ten history to have 30 touchdowns in back-to-back seasons. He was also a finalist for the Maxwell Award, Manning Award, Davey O’Brien Award, Walter Camp Player of the Year, and Johnny Unitas Gold Arm Award.

The 2023 NFL Draft Class Is Set

The announcement came on the day of the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft. With the list of eligible players finalized, teams will now shift their focus to the draft evaluation process.

Stroud’s decision to wait until the deadline to declare caused many Ohio State insiders to speculate that he may have considered staying in Columbus for another season. Stroud joins a highly regarded quarterback draft class that includes Will Levis (Kentucky), Bryce Young (Alabama) and Anthony Richardson (Florida), who are all expected to go early in the first round.

The Chicago Bears are expected to entertain trade offers for their highly coveted first-overall pick. Although the Bears are seemingly set at quarterback, GM Ryan Poles said he was dedicated to the draft process and was evaluating the entire class. However, the selection of a quarterback seems unlikely.

“We’re going to do the same as we’ve always done — we’re going to evaluate the draft class,” Poles recently told reporters. “And I would say this: I would have to be absolutely blown away to make that type of decision.”

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

Historic Trade Scenario Involving Bears No. 1 Pick?

The Indianapolis Colts, Las Vegas Raiders, Carolina Panthers and the New York Jets are all candidates to pick quarterbacks in the first round of April’s draft. The first overall selection has been traded only four times in league history.

In 2001, the Falcons moved up one spot to select Michael Vick. In the 1997 draft, the Rams jumped up five spots to grab offensive-tackle Orlando Pace. In ’95 the Carolina Panthers traded down, allowing the Bengals to take Ki-Jana first overall. Finally in 1990, the Atlanta Falcons moved out of the top spot so the Colts could select quarterback Jeff George.

The draft is scheduled to begin on April 27.