C.J. Stroud's record-breaking performance in Week 9 did not go unnoticed among NFL fans, especially those who root for teams which could have selected or traded up for Stroud in the 2023 NFL Draft. Stroud threw for five touchdowns and 470 yards -- a rookie NFL record -- against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In doing so, the surprising Texans are now 4-4 on the season and 3-1 at home.
Stroud was available for the highest bidder out of Ohio State. While being in the same draft class as Bryce Young ultimately hurt his stock some, Stroud could prove to be the better player of the two, and is leading Houston into AFC Wild Card contention in a feat very few saw coming.
Stroud may have performed poorly in some pre-draft assessments, but he didn't shy away from the fact that he would prove his detractors wrong on the field. He has done just that and then some.
The Chicago Bears should have drafted C.J. Stroud
The Bears elected to stand by Justin Fields this past offseason, giving their former first-round draft pick another chance to prove himself after ending the 2023 campaign on a tear. So far this season, the Bears have been a mess. Whether that is Fields' fault or not remains to be seen, but his Ohio State counterpart has outplayed him every step of the way.
Fields is now injured, and potentially on the outs with the Bears. Chicago traded out of the top slot in the 2023 NFL Draft in favor of future draft capital. Perhaps the Bears will rectify this mistake by selecting Caleb Williams in the 2024 draft, but if Stroud pans out and Chicago is still lacking a reliable option behind center, that choice could come back to haunt them in similar fashion to passing on Patrick Mahomes in 2017.
Ryan Poles job could very well depend on if the Bears can find their QB of the future. Matt Eberflus is in that mix, too, should he survive this season. They could've had a sure answer in Stroud, but passed.