TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — C.J. Stroud is a rookie quarterback playing like a veteran. The 2023 No. 2 overall pick out of Ohio State has nine touchdowns and has only thrown one interception so far this season – and that pick didn’t even come until Week 6 against the New Orleans Saints. 

“He’s not playing like a rookie quarterback. He’s very poised in the pocket. He makes all the right decisions and all the right throws. He knows where guys are supposed to be at. He does not make the silly mistakes that you would see from a young quarterback. He’s controlling the office really well,” said Bucs’ veteran linebacker and captain Lavonte David.

“They ask the quarterback to be very disciplined your first progression and then check it down, and that’s what you see from C.J. He’s playing smart football and just taking care of it, and on top of all of that, he’s a really talented passer,” said Bucs’ offensive coordinator Dave Canales.

Stroud has also completed 60.3% of his passes and has four different players with 22 or more catches already.

Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) warms up prior to an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Brian Westerholt)

“You definitely don’t see rookies come in with that kind of maturity and discipline to be able to play like that. Brock Purdy did that in San Francisco, and I see C.J. kind of doing the same thing,” Canales said.

A bright spot for the Bucs? Red zone defense. They’re at the top of the league, plus they’re No. 1 in the NFL in turnover margin. 

“He’s a quarterback that makes great decisions. He understands his offense to a T, [and] he doesn’t make too many mistakes. He really banks on us making the mistakes,” said Bucs’ cornerback Jamel Dean.

In head coach Todd Bowles’s five seasons with the Bucs, the defense is 7-4 against rookie quarterbacks.