It would be an understatement to say the Houston Texans found their franchise quarterback. They drafted a star.
C.J. Stroud took home the Associated Press 2023 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award Thursday night at NFL Honors.
The No. 2 overall pick became the first Texans player in franchise history to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
The quarterback wasn't the only Texans rookie to take home hardware Thursday evening. Edge rusher Will Anderson earned top defensive rookie honors, as well. It marks back-to-back season that the Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year came from the same team following the Jets' Garrett Wilson and Sauce Gardner in 2022. Stroud and Anderson are the fourth teammates to win the awards in NFL History, joining the 1967 Lions, 2017 Saints and 2022 Jets.
Stroud, who garnered 48 of 50 first-place votes, took home 246 points from voters, ahead of Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Puka Nacua (154, two first-place votes) and Detroit Lions tight end Sam LaPorta (40). Lions running back Jahmyr Gibbs (four), Atlanta Falcons running back Bijan Robinson (three) and Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Zay Flowers, Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jayden Reed and Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Rashee Rice also received votes.
The Ohio State product was sensational out of the gate, divebombing defenses into submission. Stroud showed poise beyond his years, comfort in the pocket, deftly avoiding rushers with subtle movements, and getting through his reads with aplomb. At times, he evoked memories of Drew Brees.
Stroud didn't play like a rookie, barely making mistakes and navigating a banged-up offensive line for parts of the season. Despite injuries to his blockers and receivers, the rookie just plugged along, dicing up defenses as if he were a 10-year pro.
The 22-year-old Stroud led the NFL with a 23-5 pass TD-INT ratio, the youngest player in NFL history to do so. He was the first rookie to lead the NFL in interception percentage (1.0) since Paul Governali with the 1946 Boson Yanks (who doesn't remember ol' "Pitchin" Pauly G?). Stroud finished with 4,108 passing yards, third-most by a rookie QB (Andrew Luck, Justin Herbert). His 273.9 passing yards per game were second-most for a rookie all-time (Herbert, 289.1) and led the NFL.
Stroud joined Tom Brady (2007) and Joe Montana (1989) as the only quarterbacks to lead the NFL in passing yards per game and pass TD-INT ratio (minimum 10 games). Brady and Montana each won NFL MVP that season.
Stroud's play spearheaded the Texans to an AFC South title as he became the first rookie QB to win a division title since Dak Prescott in 2016. Stroud is the first rookie QB since the 1970 merger to take a team from worst to first in a division (min. 10 starts) and win a playoff game.
Stroud's rookie season had it all. Big plays, big stats, big wins. Now he gets some hardware to commemorate one of the best first seasons ever by a quarterback.