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Will C.J. Stroud return to Ohio State or declare for 2023 NFL Draft?

The Buckeyes quarterback has a big decision to make.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - Ohio State v Georgia
C.J. Stroud of the Ohio State Buckeyes scrambles during the fourth quarter against the Georgia Bulldogs in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 31, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud has until Monday to declare for the 2023 NFL Draft, where he is expected to be one of the top picks for a team needing a quarterback. However, Stroud has yet to make his intentions known heading into the final weekend before he must make a decision.

The quarterback put up impressive numbers in two seasons as the starter. He was a Heisman finalist in both seasons and took Ohio State to the College Football Playoff this past season. Although Stroud didn’t beat Michigan in either of his two seasons as the starter, he does have a signature performance in the Rose Bowl and a near-victory in this year’s Peach Bowl over eventual national champions Georgia on his resume.

One reason Stroud might stay at Ohio State for another year is a new NIL deal. Stroud has spoken highly about how NIL has benefitted him and other athletes, and the school has the resources to put together a big package for him to come back. Being a top pick in the NFL draft comes with a great paycheck but there’s also a lot of pressure to succeed with minimal help from skill positions. Maybe Stroud will try to chase a national championship in 2023 instead of being chased by NFL defenders. After all, it’s not like he’s suddenly going to lose draft value assuming he stays healthy.

Stroud entering the draft would potentially be the biggest benefit to a team who doesn’t need a quarterback. The Chicago Bears hold the No. 1 pick and are likely to make a move with several teams like the Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans and Las Vegas Raiders in the market for a quarterback. If Stroud, a highly touted player, enters the draft pool, that’ll further increase the need for a team to move up. The Bears could have multiple opportunities to trade down if Stroud is in the mix, creating more leverage for Chicago.

We’ll see what Stroud decides over the weekend. His actions will have a widespread impact on college football and draft preparations around the NFL.