Skull Session: C.J. Stroud Has "Best Chance to Be Successful" of QBs in NFL Draft, Zach Harrison is the Freakiest of Freaky Athletes and Ohio State's MBB Seniors Are Having Fun

By Chase Brown on March 3, 2023 at 5:00 am
C.J. Stroud
Brett Davis / USA TODAY Sports

Marvin Harrison Jr. secured the perfect NIL deal this week.

That deal is with Monarc Sport, maker of the Seeker JUGS machine, and seriously, the deal could not be more perfect.

Let's have a good Friday, shall we?

 THE "BEST CHANCE TO BE SUCCESSFUL." C.J. Stroud is one of the best quarterbacks in this year's draft class. But is he the best quarterback in the class? With prospects like Bryce Young, Will Levis and Anthony Richardson also available, that question is one teams with a top 10 pick will look to answer this week at the NFL Combine.

But if former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf were to have his pick today, he would say Stroud has the "best chance to be successful in the league" out of any of the four names mentioned above.

Leaf touted Stroud's size, arm talent and "the fact that he threw to NFL wide receivers" as reasons the Ohio State quarterback will have the most successful career from a quarterback in the 2023 class.

Former NFL coordinator and head coach Marc Trestman would agree with Leaf's take. In a recent article he wrote for The 33rd Team, Trestman claimed Stroud will become a franchise quarterback at the next level for several reasons, including his accuracy, quiet mind, pre-snap processing, pocket management and work outside the pocket.

Of Trestman's reasons to pick Stroud, I found "quiet mind" and "pre-snap processing" to be the most interesting. Here is how he explains them regarding Stroud:

Quiet Mind

When you watch Stroud on tape, his functional intelligence and spatial awareness jump off the screen. He can naturally slow the chaos of the game down, quickly process information, manage the pocket and find an answer with various combinations of his arm and legs.

With time in the pocket, Stroud shows his ability to quickly process from one side of the field to another, bring his eyes and flip his hips while showing a great understanding of where his receivers and flare control are located before consistently finishing with an accurate throw.

Pre-Snap Mental Processing

When I turned on the tape and watched every throw Stroud made against Georgia, Michigan, and Maryland this season, one of the first things that stood out to me was how calmly and poised he was while directing traffic at the LOS pre-snap. Like most NFL offenses, the Ohio State offense often deploys pre-snap shifts and/or motions, with the quarterback pointing out the MIKE linebacker for protection purposes.

The protection understanding must be confirmed during interviews, but Stroud’s is encouraging based on what we can see from the tape. These attributes, and so much more about Stroud, are incredibly impressive for a 21-year-old. Clearly, he’s been coached up well.

I believe Leaf and Trestman are ahead of the curve in their evaluations of Stroud. I think the rest of the NFL world will hop on the Stroud Train once they see him throw at Lucas Oil Stadium this weekend. Does this all end with Young still being drafted ahead of him? Probably. But I'll ride with Stroud until the wheels fall off. Therefore, regardless of the order, I'll pick Coleridge to be the player that was the best available when it's all said and done.

 FREAKIER THAN FREAKY. Zach Harrison is a freaky athlete. In fact, at 6-foot-6, 274 pounds with superhuman measurables, he's freakier than freaky – he's as freaky as they come. It's too bad we didn't see him perform at the NFL Combine on Thursday.

While I'm not usually a fan of the whole watching dudes run through endless drills while wearing spandex outfits routine of the combine – mostly because I don't entirely see how the exercises translate to an NFL game other than how they display athleticism – I wanted to see how Harrison would have fared in those workouts. Perhaps more than any other prospect in the draft class, he seemed like a lock to shine in them.

From the NFL Network's Peter Schrager:

"You like to throw a name out there like, 'This is the guy to watch,' Zachary Harrison is someone who is an athletic freak, a great kid and not someone who is necessarily be the next Bosa or Chase Young right now," Schrager said. "But when you talk about workouts and the measurables and the athletics, he'll wear that Buckeye uniform well and be sure to size up to the expectations."

The NFL world was supposed to learn the name Zach Harrison on Thursday. I don't mean the coaches, executives or scouts from the 32 franchises, by the way. I mean the NFL fans that didn't watch or care for the Buckeyes over the past four years outside a few select games. They were the people for which Harrison would put himself on the map.

But Harrison's hamstring had other plans.

While I am on the topic of Harrison putting himself on the map, I am reminded of when I first learned his name back in the day. It was a Football Friday Night in Columbus. Worthington Kilbourne, my alma mater, visited Olentangy Orange in late August 2016.

Harrison, a 6-foot-5, 250-pound defensive end and tight end at the time, was a mismatch on both sides of the ball. Offensively, he caught every pass. Defensively, it felt like he had every tackle. He did it all: one-handed catches, two-handed catches, bend-it-like-Beckham catches, sacks, tackles for loss, forced fumbles and fumble recoveries. It was one of the best performances from a high school player I had ever seen.

One moment I will never forget was when Harrison mossed my friend for a touchdown. Have a look at the picture that captured the moment, neatly formatted on Twitter thanks to Skull Session legend Kevin Harrish:

What a fantastic moment for Justice Sueing, Isaac Likelele and Sean McNeil. I'm sure none of them expected the season to occur as it did, but to see smiles on their faces as their time as college basketball players reaches its end makes me smile wide from ear to ear.

Wins and losses matter. Of course, they do. But I hope what those three remember most about this season is that they never lost hope in one another and fought with each other until the end of the line. Those kinds of bonds, perhaps even more than the wins and losses, are what sports are all about. 

 THIS AND THAT. The final section of this Skull Session will be devoted to some quick hitters that will take us into the weekend strong. The content will range from NBA to Ohio State women's hockey and women's basketball and some other lulz. Let's dive in.

First, what if I told you Malaki Branham had that dawg in him?

Second, what if I told you Sophie Jaques and Nadine Muzerall also had that dawg in them?

Third, what if I told you. 

OK, I won't do it three times in a row. Two times in a row was enough (or maybe one was). The third thing is that Kevin McGuff has a large family. A father of six, McGuff carries that paternal instinct on the court with him as he coaches Ohio State women's basketball.

Fourth and finally, celebrate women in sports this month, honoring the past, defending the present and protecting the future.

 SONG OF THE DAY. "Lonesome & Mad" by Under the Rug.

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