Is C.J. Stroud a Candidate to Slide?

Ohio State Buckeyes QB C.J. Stroud
Ohio State Buckeyes QB C.J. Stroud
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Draft - Risers and fallers. Stock up and stock down. It's a tale as old as draft time immemorial. With the 2023 NFL draft season in the home stretch, let's take a look at which players have the most momentum heading into draft week and which players are slipping and sliding down the Grinding the Mocks' draft boards. Looking back at last year's final list of Risers and Fallers is both a fun exercise and a humbling one at the same time. It's a lesson in the cruel randomness and, as Donald Rumsfeld said, the "unknown unknowns" that make up the NFL draft

Risers and Fallers Chart

Only one of last year's top three risers (Kayvon Thibodeaux, Jameson Williams, and Desmond Ridder) wound up getting drafted appreciably higher than their Expected Draft Position, and that was Williams via a trade. This data point also made me believe in Ridder's Round 1 chances last year instead of seeing him as another one of the many quarterbacks with the distinction of being over-mocked. It turns out that it's easier to identify a true positive case of "faller syndrome" with Jalen Wydermyer and Justyn Ross both undrafted and with Kyle Hamilton falling, but not appreciably, so it is more of a Pyrrhic victory of sorts.

On to the risers!


Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

Bijan Robinson chart

Seeing Texas' Bijan Robinson headlining this list is both gratifying for me as an analyst and terrifying to find myself rooting for a running back to be drafted as high as I think he will. I'm still of the opinion that NFL teams won't be able to help themselves when drafting Robinson given how highly he'll be rated as a prospect and positional value playing a much smaller role in his selection than it should. Please don't take away my football analytics card, Mr. Schatz!

Tyree Wilson, ER, Texas Tech

Tyree Wilson chart

Multiple renowned draft analysts have posited that some teams may have Texas Tech's Tyree Wilson graded higher than his edge rusher counterpart Will Anderson from Alabama. This line of thinking opens up a path for Wilson to go in the top five, especially with the uncertainty introduced by the Texans' choice at pick 2.

Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State

Emmanuel Forbes chart

Emmanuel Forbes is officially the DeVonta Smith of the 2023 NFL draft class. Everyone knows the "Slim Reaper" type when they see it: a player who had a stellar college career and has good tape to boot but whose thin, long, and wiry frame complicates his evaluation. Forbes make up for his physical limitations by developing stellar coverage skills at Mississippi State. Who's drafting a cornerback to play linebacker anyways?

2023 Grinding the Mocks Post-Combine Risers
Name Pos School Data as of
Data as of
Bijan Robinson RB Texas 18.0 (17) 13.9 (13) +4.1 (+4)
Tyree Wilson ER Texas Tech 7.2 (6) 5.6 (4) +1.6 (+2)
Emmanuel Forbes CB Mississippi State 37.3 (41) 29.2 (29) +8.1 (+12)


C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

C.J. Stroud chart

As the narrative around Bryce Young being the first overall pick solidified, C.J. Stroud was always going to be the player with the most to lose. Reports have been coming out fast and furious from well-connected national reporters and draft analysts that the Texans may prefer to draft a non-quarterback with their second overall pick. This revelation has opened the eyes of draftniks to the possibility that Stroud could fall beyond pick two or three.

Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

Anthony Richardson chart

I'm as surprised to see Anthony Richardson here as you are given that he was my fastest-rising player after the combine. Testing as well as he did at the combine meant that the Florida quarterback has since received a renewed higher level of scrutiny as talent evaluators go back and further pick apart his game looking for things they might have missed. This also plays into a different narrative I have that pegs the order of the top four quarterbacks as Young, Stroud, Will Levis, and Anthony Richardson, with Richardson potentially falling out of the top 10.

Eli Ricks, CB, Alabama

Eli Ricks chart

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. Eli Ricks entered the 2022 college football season as one of the nation's top defensive back prospects having just arrived at Alabama as a highly regarded transfer from LSU. Instead of showing why he was so highly recruited coming out of high school, Ricks' season echoed that of Georgia's Derion Kendrick, who transferred from Clemson at the start of the 2021 season with similar expectations, tested poorly, and wound up as a sixth-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Rams.

2023 Grinding the Mocks Post-Combine Fallers
Name Pos School Data as of
Data as of
C.J. Stroud QB Ohio State 1.6 (1) 3.1 (2) -1.5 (-1)
Anthony Richardson QB Florida 4.8 (4) 6.3 (5) -1.5 (-1)
Eli Ricks CB Alabama 101.7 (93) 132.3 (143) -30.6 (-50)


5 comments, Last at 28 Apr 2023, 2:51pm

#1 by Mr Shush // Apr 24, 2023 - 2:46pm

Levis is now odds on to be the second overall pick, ahead of the two pass rushers as well as Stroud. Most people seem to think that represents an expectation of the Texans trading down, not drafting him themselves. One story had the Vikings trading up to take him, but I find it difficult to see how they put together a realistic package for such a move.

Points: 0

#2 by ImNewAroundThe… // Apr 24, 2023 - 8:18pm

Passed on a QB altogether last year. Ok, thought it was a bad class. 

Then proceeded to fail the tank and miss out on the one guy they thought would be worth it and think the rest of the class is...bad. 

Yeah nah they need to stop dinking around and take a shot. Otherwise the experience of Keenum/Mills will just happen to make them miss out on Williams/Maye/or whoever they think is worth it.

Points: 0

#4 by ImNewAroundThe… // Apr 26, 2023 - 6:31pm

That'd be the only team with a Mills and Keenum

Points: 0

#5 by RickD // Apr 28, 2023 - 2:51pm

These comments underscore why prognostication is such a tricky business.  Turned out the Texans wanted Stroud after all, and Levis is still in the Green Room as we move on to Day Two.

Points: 0

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