Especially when that tackle carries the cachet of Laremy Tunsil, who became the highest-paid offensive tackle in NFL history earlier this offseason. The three-time Pro Bowler and fourth-year Houston Texan has clearly taken a liking to CJ Stroud, whom the franchise selected No. 2 overall in April, and is making no secret of his support for the former Buckeye quarterback.
While Stroud has yet to be named Houston’s Week 1 starter, Tunsil recently posted an Instagram story with a photo of him and the first-year quarterback with the caption “QB1” and the “fingers crossed” emoji. The photo indicated where Tunsil thinks — or at least hopes — Stroud will be at the start of the season, as well as the close nature of the pair.
In an appearance on The Pat McAfee Show last week, Tunsil explained his feelings about Stroud, who he said has shown all the intangibles necessary to become a star in the NFL sooner or later.
“He’s doing well, he came into the building with these incredible leadership skills and he’s killing it, man,” Tunsil said. “The way I describe CJ is a dog. He’s a straight dog. He comes in there ready to work. He runs the huddle perfectly. And he goes out there and plays. And you have to appreciate that, especially a young quarterback like CJ”
Amidst Stroud’s second week of OTAs in Houston back in June, Texans quarterbacks coach Jerrod Johnson said Stroud is “already way, way ahead of the pace,” and it seems Tunsil agrees. Stroud’s progress should only continue if he maintains the aforementioned work ethic and sticks with it. win over important members of the locker room.
During a recent interview with Click2HoustonStroud said he and Tunsil have actually spent time together off the field as well. Even before that, Stroud said, “Laremy was the first person to hit me when I got drafted.”
“For him to do that, just being such a great player and such a special person, I was really grateful for everything he said to me. And I know he’s the type of person that he doesn’t say things just to say,” Stroud said. “He really means it. And I really appreciate him for everything and I know we’ll be great teammates together. We already have a really good connection, have hung out several times and are really excited to get started with him. And on top of that, just be friends, just be brothers. I think it’s better than being teammates. So I’m really excited to work with Laremy.”
“he came into the building with these incredible leadership qualities and he’s killing it, man. How I describe CJ is a dog. He’s a straight dog.”– Laremy Tunsil on CJ Stroud
As important as Stroud’s development on the field will be to his immediate future as a potential starter in the NFL, the California native is also making every effort to cultivate his leadership skills off the field. Stroud seemed as excited about the opportunity to continue building relationships with his teammates as he did the start of training camp, which begins later this month.
“(Training camp is just) getting better. Not just getting myself better, but getting everyone around me better. Been throwing with my guys, got a couple of events that I want to go to with them and be able to have some chemistry, some team-bonding events with them,” Stroud said. “And I’m excited to do it because at the end of the day that’s what it’s all about. The closest teams are the best teams. So super excited to be able to work with such amazing people and that’s what it’s all about , that’s how you win. So I’m just trying to build a really tight-knit team and I want to be at the forefront of that with my other teammates.”
Despite appearing to pass the eye test on the field and saying all the right things off it, Stroud remains embroiled in a quarterback competition with last year’s starter, Davis Mills. It’s only a matter of time before Stroud gets his shot to carry the Houston offense, but for now head coach Demeco Ryans is content to let him earn it in the offseason.
The Texans selected Mills in the third round of the 2021 NFL draft, but the Stanford product has just a 5-19-1 record as Houston’s starter under center over the past two seasons. The No. 2 overall pick last spring, Stroud is poised to be the face of the Texans’ franchise, provided he can live up to the billing.
“With CJ and with all of our players, nobody has a defined starting role right now,” Ryans said earlier this summer. “Just want to see continued improvement from our guys, right? Are you improving and are you being accountable to your teammates? Can we all count on you to make the right decisions and make plays? Ultimately help us win football games . For the guys on our team that can put us in the best position to win games, those are the guys I want out there.”
As for Stroud’s own assessment of his game, he believes he’s been solid so far, but believes another level is within reach when training camp starts in late July.
“I feel that I have done well” Stroud told Click2Houston on Sunday. “(Organized team activities and minicamp) was something I just wanted to put my best foot forward and just be a good leader as well as a great player, soak in the playbook, soak in coaching and be the best I can be. I think it was a good start, a good routine to get into training camp and do better there.”