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Road to the Draft: C.J. Stroud has 'great conversation' with Raiders at Combine, ready to prove himself at the next level

C.J. Stroud stepped up to the podium at the Scouting Combine on Friday with an unwavering confidence.

The same confidence that he showcased on the field in Ohio Stadium the past two years.

The two-time Heisman Trophy finalist finished with a 21-4 record in his two seasons as a starter for the Buckeyes, throwing for over 8,000 passing yards, 85 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions.

With many teams undoubtedly planning to interview the top QB prospect, the Raiders were first up with Head Coach Josh McDaniels, General Manager Dave Ziegler and some of the front office staff all hearing from Stroud. 

"[I] got to explain what my offense was, and they asked me about my athleticism, if I could do it at the next level," he said of the exchange. "I told them, 'Yes, sir.' Had a great conversation with them.

"They asked me about some family stuff as well. Just being really honest and trying to build that relationship and that connection."

But it goes beyond just seeing NFL dreams realized. It's also about unlocking his game at a higher level.

"Honestly, I don't think I've even touched my potential yet," he said. "I think I have a lot more to get better at, but I have a lot more to prove not only to y'all, but to myself. That's something I plan to do."

It's easy to see how much Stroud loves the game of football and embraces the leadership that comes with the quarterback position. With the confidence he exudes, he also has a large amount of self-awareness. He takes pride in his "free-flowing but still disciplined" approach and in his abilities as a self-proclaimed ball-placement specialist, backed up by a 69.3 completion percentage across two years in a dynamic offense.

"I don't try to press the envelope, and I think that's very important being a quarterback sometimes because you want to let your teammates know that you're not always trying to be Superman," he reflected. "But when you need to be to make that play and you can extend that play, you get a lot more respect from your teammates."

The Combine is the first of many more chances the Raiders have to evaluate Stroud and the rest of the QB draft class before April.

There's the workout portion for the quarterbacks on Saturday, plus pro days and 30 visits ahead.

Stroud hopes to continue to impress in all of them after making the personally difficult, but not surprising choice to enter the draft.

"It was really hard for me to leave a place like Ohio State where it takes time to get to where I was at. It takes a lot of hard work, a lot of trust-building, a lot of comradery off the field. ... It was a smart decision for me, I feel, but it was really hard.

"Of course, not beating that team up north [Michigan], not winning a National Championship – two goals of mine – and of course, not winning the Heisman was, I feel, because of those losses. That kind of hurts. ... It put a little more fire in me, put another chip on my shoulder.

"I'm excited to go the league and do better things than that."

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