Is C.J. Stroud’s Perceived Draft Slide Tied To His Score On S2 Cognition Test?

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The S2 Cognition Test, used by over a dozen NFL teams to test how quickly players see, think and react to in-game decisions, has grown in prominence and consequence since its inception some eight years ago.

And right now it is seemingly destroying C.J. Stroud.

Multiple sources during the current draft cycle have pulled back the curtain on some S2 scores. Everyone seems to know former Alabama quarterback Bryce Young scored high on the latest round of tests, joining some past test valedictorians as Josh Allen, Brock Purdy and Patrick Mahomes.

Young scored 98 percent out of 100.

Well, in looking at the rest of the quarterbacks in the 2023 draft class, Stroud is apparently trailing the pack.

By a lot.

C.J. Stroud Draft Value Has Dropped

And that might explain why he is suddenly not as highly valued to the point the quarterback-needy Houston Texans might not take him at No. 2 overall even though a month ago some draft analysts and Las Vegans odds had him as the likely No. 1 overall selection.

“I think sometimes everything gets taken with and ran with on the media side of things, and it could just simply be the Texans are the team we’ve long anticipated would take him, and that might be that the Texans just don’t feel like he is a great fit for them,” said NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah. “So who is to say that that doesn’t mean they trade that pick and somebody comes up and takes him, that is somebody comes up to 3 and takes him or the Colts take him at 4?

“I don’t know that it’s this narrative that he is dropping like a rock as much as it is that it seems to be out there that they’re not in lockstep, unanimous in support of C.J. Stroud inside that one building in Houston. That’s basically I think what everybody is getting.”

What everyone is also getting is that the S2 test has made Stroud seem like a quarterback who will struggle to process. A quarterback who still struggle to recognize and react to game situations. A quarterback who, in short, is likely to be a bust.

That’s how it looks considering a report by that details the S2 test scores of the top QB prospects.

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – DECEMBER 31: Bryce Young #9 of the Alabama Crimson Tide looks to pass during the second quarter of the Allstate Sugar Bowl against the Kansas State Wildcats at Caesars Superdome on December 31, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Bryce Young Leads S2 Test Scoring

Those scores, per sources:

Young at 98 percent, then 96 percent for Fresno State’s Jake Haener, 93 percent for Kentucky’s Will Levis and Brigham Young’s Jaren Hall, 84 percent for Houston’s Clayton Tune, 79 percent for Florida’s Anthony Richardson and 46 percent for Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker.

Stroud’s score was 18 percent.

That suggests Stroud will struggle mightily once he gets to run a pro offense against a sophisticated NFL defense when he gets on the field.



“The test is about recognizing what you’re seeing,” an NFL scout told OutKick on Friday. “You’ve got maybe six shapes that pop on your screen and one isn’t like the others and you have to identify that one fast as you can and move on to next screen.

“It’s actually a cool test but I wouldn’t say that’s the reason C.J. Stroud isn’t going to be the first overall pick.”

Quarterback C.J. Stroud entering the NFL draft. (Credit: Getty Images)
A test score seems to be a cause for concern that surrounds C.J. Stroud ahead of the NFL draft. (Credit: Getty Images).

Scouts Explain Cognitive Test Purpose

The scout, who’s name is being withheld so he could speak freely, said his team uses this test as a redundancy measure.

“If we see a player has trouble with recognition, if a quarterback isn’t processing well on tape, we look at his score to see if there’s confirmation,” the scout said. “Or if the test suggests there’s a problem, we go back to the tape to see if that’s true.”

So the S2 provides a frame of reference. Even New Orleans Saints assistant GM Jeff Ireland is quoted on the S2 site saying the test provides “perspective” and “guidance” for the evaluation process.

But the scout warned that judging any player, including a quarterback, by this one test is a huge mistake.

“An evaluation is a bio, if you will, on a player,” he said. “You have critical factors. Does he meet those? Tape? How does he play? Abilities. How does he test out? How big is he? What’s his play speed? And, of course, how smart of a player is he and how instinctive is he? There are also other important things, like character.

“All those things combine to give you a biography of who this player is and what kind of player he is likely to become.”

Justin Fields scored highly on the S2 test but is still viewed as a work in progress. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images).

Justin Field Scored High On S2 Test

And, yes, there are players who scored well who have played well. Joe Burrow and Josh Allen come to mind. But Justin Fields also scored highly.

“For all his ability and high score, he’s still developing going into Year 3,” the scout said of Fields. “Burrow took the Bengals to the Super Bowl in his second year.”

NFL history is punctuated by quarterbacks who slot high or low on intelligence and cognitive tests. But their scores belie their on-field results.

Blaine Gabbert, Matt Flynn and Greg McElroy scored quite high on the old Wonderlic test, for example. Terry Bradshaw, Dan Marino, Jim Kelly and Brett Favre were on the lower end of the scale and were great players.

So how Stroud ultimately performs will not be wholly determined by one test.

“I really like C.J. Stroud,” Jeremiah said. “He is my 7th overall player. To me, if it’s me in that [Texans] situation, I would take C.J. Stroud. I think he is better than anybody you have on your roster right now. It’s an upgrade.

“You can look to next year all you want. There are absolutely no guarantees you’re going to get one of those guys next year.”

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

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