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The Ohio State Buckeyes have a rich tradition of sending great players to the NFL. Since 1941, twenty one of those players have been drafted at the quarterback position. Most of those players have had less than reputable NFL careers and it has given the school the moniker of not being able to produce great quarterbacks.
Since current head coach Ryan Day took over in 2019, he’s had two quarterbacks drafted and both were first round picks. In 2021 the Chicago Bears selected Justin Fields with the 11th overall pick. In this past draft (2023), the Houston Texans selected C.J. Stroud with the number two pick overall.
Both have played in Day’s pro style offense and the two are vastly different quarterbacks. Can they succeed where the others have fallen short?
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The list of quarterbacks that have rushed for (at least) 1,000 yards in a season includes Michael Vick and former league MVP Lamar Jackson. Fields became the third name on that list with his fancy footwork last season. He rushed for 7.1 yards per attempt and punched it into the end zone eight times on the ground.
These electrifying runs can only take Fields so far but he has become an immediate threat on the football field. The question is can he become a dual threat signal caller and deliver passes downfield? Last season, the Bears’ wide receivers had trouble breaking away from defenders and they were rarely open.
They added a legit target in wide receiver D.J. Moore in the offseason, hoping to bolster that position group. The addition of Moore pushes Darrell Mooney to the secondary wide receiver role and Chase Claypool to the slot. If you add in tight end Cole Kmet, Fields now has the tools to make it happen.
The Bears are hoping Fields can turn the corner, (much like Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback Jalen Hurts) and start to deliver with both his legs and his arms. For a guy that’s already box office material, there’s very little doubt by the Bears’ hierarchy that he could pull it off.
He has the prerequisite skills and now he has the weapons to complete the puzzle.
Unlike Fields, Stroud is known for his ability to drop back and pepper defenses with precision passes. In the college football playoffs versus the vaunted University of Georgia’s No. 1 one defense, Stroud put on a show. He finished the game 23-34 for 348 yards and four touchdowns.
After making mincemeat out of that defense, questions still lingered about Stroud’s athletic ability and intangibles. It could’ve been pre-draft posturing or a real concern but it didn’t stop the Texans from taking him second overall.
Now, the Texans see nothing but bright skies ahead with a very young core off offensive players that include Stroud, running back Dameon Pierce and former Alabama wide out John Metchie. Add in the veteran Robert Woods and a big playmaking tight end like Dalton Schultz, Stroud could be turning heads sooner rather than later.
The Texans have put all their faith in Stroud, giving him a ton of the first team reps in training camp. Stroud looks poised and ready to deliver a strong rookie campaign.
Both quarterbacks are in position to make real advancements in their transfer success and their overall careers. I can’t quite put my finger on it yet but these two seemed destined to buck the trend of all Ohio State quarterbacks. They should succeed where the others have failed.