The Ohio State football program has produced too many legendary NFL players to count. But when it comes to the league’s most high-profile position, quarterback, the Buckeyes’ best have typically fallen flat in the professional ranks. Art Schlichter, a big-time prospect picked No. 4 overall by the Baltimore Colts in 1982, saw his career end quickly due to a gambling addiction.
Current Chicago Bears starting quarterback Justin Fields has seen his career plagued by injury and ineffectiveness. But C.J. Stroud, who was selected second overall in this past draft by the Houston Texans, has shown enough promise to be the Buckeyes’ top passer in the NFL. The Ohio State quarterback who has the most passing yards in the NFL is Mike Tomczak, a career journeyman who played 15 years in the NFL and is best known for being a backup for the 1985 Chicago Bears. While there will be a lot of twists and turns to his career moving forward, black sports news shows Stroud has wowed observers during his first two months in the NFL.
Stroud led Houston to an upset win over division favorite Jacksonville early in the season and has also guided the Texans to a win over Pittsburgh. Both the NFL Offensive and Rookie of the Year races have clear favorites. While there is plenty of time for either Stroud or Defensive Rookie of the Year odds leader Philadelphia defensive tackle Jalen Carter to fade, it appears everyone else is chasing those two.
Early Front-Runner for Top of Class
There was a lot of hype surrounding the 2023 quarterback class. While Carolina took Alabama product Bryce Young No. 1 overall, there was little consensus over who was the top guy. Many people favored Stroud, the Ohio State product. Anthony Richardson and Will Levis were two other highly-regarded quarterbacks who were chosen in the top two rounds.
Stroud is a -185 favorite to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Anyone who wanted to win $100 on Stroud to win the award would have to bet $185. The only other player close to him in betting odds is Puka Nacua, who is a wide receiver for the Rams and is +325 to win the award.
Stroud has the Texans off to a respectable 3-3 start and hasn’t been hampered by making a bunch of rookie mistakes. Stroud has only been intercepted once. He has completed 59.6 percent of his passes for 1,660 yards and nine touchdowns. There is also little pressure on Stroud to win this season. The Texans were thought to be rebuilding, so any success Stroud shows this year will be a welcomed sight for the organization.
Nacua is Interesting Second Option
The Los Angeles Rams were worried about starting the season without All-Pro receiver Cooper Kupp. But having Nacua available has been more than an adequate replacement. Nacua has already set a number of records for rookie wide receivers.
By putting up 154 receiving yards against the Steelers last Sunday, Nacua has now had more than 150 yards in two games this season. Only three other rookies — Odell Beckham Jr., Ja’Marr Chase, and Justin Jefferson — have hit that mark. Nacua has 752 receiving yards so far and four games of 100 yards or more.
With Los Angeles off to a solid start and in playoff contention, it is likely that Nacua could steal the award down the stretch if Stroud gets injured or his performance wanes.
Injuries May Crush Robinson
Running back Bijan Robinson may have missed a good opportunity to win the award. Playing on an Atlanta Falcons team that will contend for the division title, Robinson rushed for more than 100 yards in two of his first four games as a pro. However, Robinson was held out against Tampa Bay last Sunday after suffering from an undisclosed head injury, according to recent sports updates.
If Robinson misses time, he will fall way behind some of the other top performers. Robinson is +1100 to win the award and should get plenty of touches from Atlanta if healthy. Robinson has 404 passing yards and 189 receiving yards so far this season.
Carter Fits the Mold in Philadelphia
There is no doubt that Jalen Carter was one of the most impressive prospects during the lead up to the NFL Draft last season. That talent has already more than shone on the field. During seven games, Carter has recorded 3.5 sacks and forced two fumbles. Thanks to his dominance and the Eagles’ success, he is the heavy favorite at -150 to win the Defensive Rookie of the Year. Carter is more than capable of being the next in a long line of strong defensive linemen.
What may be held against the No. 9 overall pick is his involvement in a fatal street racing accident last January. He pleaded no contest after being charged with reckless driving and street racing. Another car that night that was driven by a Georgia staffer crashed and went off the road, killing the driver and one of Carter’s teammates.
Witherspoon Has Made Splash
The Seattle Seahawks have been reinventing themselves as they move on from the players who helped them win a Super Bowl nearly a decade ago. Cornerback Devon Witherspoon has shown an ability to be part of the next wave of strong Seahawks players. Witherspoon, who has the second-best odds to win the award, returned an interception 97 yards for a touchdown against New York earlier this season.
Witherspoon has also already broken up eight passes. He is also a capable pass rusher, having recorded two sacks as well. What Witherspoon may need to do in order to garner more support is make more splash plays. Voters typically like to see big numbers, and that hasn’t happened for him quite yet, according to current sports news.
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