CJ Stroud: Offensive Rookie of the Year Favorite

C.J. Stroud: NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Favorite

As the NFL season unfolds, certain narratives emerge that captivate fans and analysts alike. One such story is the meteoric rise of Houston Texans' rookie sensation C.J. Stroud.

From his days dazzling at Ohio State's "Horseshoe" to his seamless transition to the NFL gridiron, Stroud has quickly become the frontrunner for the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award. But what makes the Texans rookie signal caller so special, and how has he managed to outshine his peers? Let's dive into the prowess of the Texans' budding superstar.

C.J. the Record Breaker

Stroud has had an historic beginning to his NFL career.

The rookie has looked phenomenal under pressure, and has displayed the poise and rhythm of a savvy veteran under center. Incredibly, Stroud recently became just the 6th passer in NFL history to throw for 300 passing yards per game and 0 interceptions through the first 4 games of the season. The rest of the list reads as a who's who of 21st-century passers: Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, and Peyton Manning. Most quarterbacks can only dream of being included on a list with those names and Stroud is doing this as a rookie!

Impressively, the former Buckeye also recently broke the record for most passing attempts to start his career without an interception, which now sits at an impressive 186. Only former 1st-overall pick Cam Newton threw for more yards over the first five games of his rookie season than Stroud in NFL history. While only Newton, Justin Herbert, Marcus Mariota and Deshaun Watson have thrown for more than Stroud's 7 touchdown passes in the same timeframe. Magnificently, he's 5th in the NFL in yards-per-attempt at 7.9, 8th in EPA/play, and has been sacked on just 5.6% of his dropbacks according to Pro Football Focus.

C.J.'s ability to create off-script and deliver the football with uncanny anticipation have the rookie looking like a player well beyond his years. Which begs the question, why wasn't Stroud the 1st-overall pick?

Did the Panthers make the Wrong Choice?

Carolina's choice to draft Bryce Young over Stroud has come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks.

Remember, Carolina gave up the 9th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, along with a 2nd-round pick, their 2024 first-round pick (which currently sits at 1st-overall), a 2025 2nd-round pick, and wide receiver D.J. Moore in order to draft Young. That's a haul. At this point, even Young's most ardent supporters will have to admit he's been outplayed by Stroud over their first month as NFL quarterbacks.

While Young was a spectacularly creative playmaker at Alabama, he's been ultra-conservative so far in his NFL career. In fact, the former Heisman trophy winner's yards-per-attempt sits at just 5.2, and ranks 34th among passers this season. He's been sacked 12 times already this season, and has lacked the out of structure magic he pulled out of hat as a member of the Crimson Tide.

Young's thrown for just 750 yards over his first four starts, with 5 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions already. His numbers pale in comparison to Stroud's. The Texans new franchise has tossed for 1461 yards while throwing 7 touchdowns through his first five games.

Now, there's a whole 'lotta ball game left in these quarterbacks careers, however the race for the Offensive Rookie of the Year isn't close. Bryce Young will undoubtedly improve as the overall level of talent Carolina surrounds him with increases.Yet, Stroud appears to have all the qualities of a future NFL superstar, while Young looks like an undersized passer with a mediocre arm.

Betting on C.J. Stroud & the Houston Texans

Stroud now sits as a huge +120 favorite to win the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, with Atlanta Falcons star running back Bijan Robinson (+350) and Rams breakout receiver Puka Nacua (+350) next on the list. That being said, the NFL loves to favor their star quarterbacks, and if the Ohio State product continues on his current pace, the award will be his to lose.

Looking at other Houston futures, you can still bet the Texans OVER 7.5 wins at an enticing -115. The Texans own the league's 4th-easiest remaining strength of schedule, with their opponents' combining for a .414 winning percentage through Week 5.  Demeco Ryans' crew have very winnable games against the lowly Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos, Tennessee Titans, Cleveland Browns, and Indianapolis Colts on the docket. If Stroud can maintain his excellent play, OVER 7.5 wins is a lock for this Texans team.

If you genuinely believe in C.J. Stroud's transcendent talents, you can still find Houston to make the playoffs at +280 odds. Should you believe the Texans' star is the second-coming of Tom Brady, you can bet Houston at +13000 to win the Super Bowl.

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