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Rewatching C.J. Stroud’s Immaculate NFL Combine

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By: Kenneth L.

Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Peer back one year ago to rewatch history in the making

C.J. Stroud’s performance at the 2023 NFL Combine could be described as none other than phenomenal. From start to finish, Stroud’s passes were emblematic of the season he would have his rookie year.

Sure, the NFL Combine is the analysts’ turn to have their song and dance heard. Every prognosticator from here to Indianapolis (where the NFL Combine is held) will grind their teeth on the analysis behind their performance, but on few occasions do they all hold hands in unison and sing the praise of a single player.

After the season Stroud had, are we surprised?

Before the weekend last year, Stroud declined to do the normal workouts and instead only chose to throw. That means no 40 yard dash, no bench press, no three-cone drill, just passes… beautiful, perfect passes.

Due to NFL and Youtube’s join dismissal of all outside media, here is a link to the full NFL Combine workout.

First thing you’ll notice is the poise. There’s literally millions of dollars on the line for his performance and he looks like he’s on the beach of sunny Los Angeles throwing passes to his boys.

Look at how Stroud handles himself throughout the workout. There’s a presence he has in the most important practice of his career. Equally as important, watch how he reacts to throws that aren’t perfect. His high expectations exude through every throw and catch.

His first set of passes are perfectly thrown to slant routes. The ball is leading the receiver, has a tight spiral, and have a catchable pace to them. It’s the type of pass that a receiver asks for because it makes it look easy, because it’s easy. His footwork is crisp, calm, and practiced.

Pure natural thrower

The second set of passes are the 10-yards and out route. These can be more difficult as the receiver and quarterback are unfamiliar with each other.

The core principles scouts are looking for is timing, placement, and and depth. Timing of when the ball is released, gets to the receiver, and when the receiver gets out of his turn. Placement of the ball is critical; too far ahead and the receiver can’t get two feet in bounds. But too far behind and it can be a pick-six going the other way.

Stroud’s passes are punctual. Simply delivered to the receiver. He has one ball thrown a bit too far, but that’s honestly on the receiver for slowing down when he looked back.

There’s a calmness to him… everything he does is graceful.

Another fantastic set of analysis from Rich Eisen and the crew….

Everything is on balance, under control, smooth and easy, right where it needs to be. Again look at his base… just a nice, relaxed, calm feet. Once he gets to the top of his drop… very under control. Always on balance. Transfer your weight. Nice tight stroke….

The most fun is watching the deep ball. One of the most critical moments for any player at any position at the Combine is quarterback’s long throws. The players throw it from one side of the field to outside of the numbers on the opposite side. In the throw down below, Stroud launches a rocket 70 yards.

Another thing that makes Stroud’s throws so receiver-friendly is the way the ball carries and lands into their hands. The pass needs to have enough arc to drop into the pouch of the receiver rather. Remember, the ball is moving twice as fast as the receiver; if it doesn’t have enough arc it will spear right through their hands.

In the Youtube video you’ll see several drops and overthrows. Funny enough, his first throw was to WR Puka Nacua the runner up to Stroud for Offensive Rookie of the Year. Without the audio, these look a bit inconsistent, but listen in to the analysts fawn over these passes.

The last few routes put a stamp on what could only be described as a statement performance. Fortunately, it didn’t move his draft stock any higher than the second overall pick.

Considering the majority of the top-tier QBs such as Caleb Williams and Drake Maye won’t throw at the Combine, it makes Stroud’s performance all the more glamorous. They know they can’t repeat his spectacle and don’t want to damage their current draft value. Meanwhile, Stroud can look back on his performance and point to a singular moment in time where the past would become the present.

Originally posted on Battle Red Blog – All Posts