As the 2023 NFL Draft draws nearer, it seems clear that the Carolina Panthers will be selecting a quarterback with the first overall pick.
The question is, which signal caller will it be?
For NBC Sports NFL analyst Chris Simms, there's little doubt who it should be.
"I'm taking C.J. Stroud," Simms said on on The Dan Patrick Show on Tuesday. "I'm a big C.J. Stroud fan. I think he's in a class by himself."
For Simms, Stroud, who starred collegiately at Ohio State, has two distinct advantages over former Alabama star Bryce Young, who is largely considered to be the other candidate to go first overall.
"One, the size thing, compared to my No. 2 quarterback, Bryce Young. It's a real issue. It's concerning, one, for Bryce Young, two, size is a strength -- it's a skill. We talk about this a lot, the ability for the bigger quarterback to throw with people hanging around them. 'I can't step into this throw, but I'm still big enough and strong enough to throw a 20-yard out route.' I always lean toward that.
"But then when you break down C.J. Stroud, I guess I was a little blown away by the fact that his decision-making is borderline flawless. I think it's about as good as I've seen other than maybe Joe Burrow -- he's the only guy I would maybe give the edge to as far as that department. And then throwing the football, [Stroud's] mechanics are flawless. And it's not like it's dinks and dunks and screens, all that type of stuff. It's one 15-, 20-, 25-yard throw after another. And of course I think his movement is underrated a bit -- I think there's still some untapped potential in this kid.
"So, he's clearly No. 1 for me, and I would be shocked if more people didn't see it that way as the NFL evaluators continue to go through the process."
Stroud, 21, put up two huge seasons as the starting quarterback with the Buckeyes. In 25 starts, he totaled 81 touchdown passes to just 12 interceptions while completing 69% of his passes.
While projecting Young as an NFL starter requires some imagination given his relatively diminutive stature (5-foot-10 and 205 pounds), Stroud fits the mold of the prototypical signal caller at 6-foot-3 and 214 pounds.
While Young may have enjoyed greater overall success in the college ranks, including winning the Heisman Trophy in 2021, Stroud seems to check just about every box as well.
Regardless of which players goes first, it seems likely that they will be compared and contrasted throughout their NFL careers.
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