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C.J. Stroud’s agency tells NFL its prospects will skip all pre-draft cognition tests

C.J. Stroud’s agency sent a message to the NFL. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud made the warnings about his pre-NFL Draft cognition test results look foolish this season, and now the agency that represents him is taking things a step further.

Athletes First is reportedly directing its 2024 prospects to forego all intelligence testing in light of Stroud’s low results being leaked. While the agency doesn’t represent any of the top quarterbacks for the upcoming draft class, the decision could very well influence other firms to follow suit for their clients.

“After much internal discussion, the agents at Athletes First have directed our draft prospects to respectfully pass on participating in any cognitive or psychological testing during the pre-draft process (e.g. AIQ, S2, etc.),” the company wrote in an e-mail to NFL clubs obtained by The Athletic. “We understand that many of your teams use these tests or protocols as part of your prospect evaluation process, however our recent experience with these exams has been less than positive. Specifically, the fact that certain results and performance were leaked publicly last year demonstrates that there truly is no confidentiality with these tests. It is not right for a player’s intelligence, aptitude or mental processing to be subject to public discussion and ridicule — no other job interview carries the same scrutiny.”

The agency’s prospects will still go through “standard pre-draft physical activities and any football-based interviews or film review,” according to the message cited by The Athletic.

This comes after Stroud reportedly scored 18 out of 100 on the S2 test, leading to harmful speculation about his mental aptitude for the sport. NFL teams have utilized the S2 since 2016, mostly for quarterbacks.

“I’m not a test-taker. I play football,” Stroud said in the wake of all the criticism. “At the end of the day, I don’t got nothing to prove to nobody, so I’m not going to sit here and explain how I process football. The people who are making the picks know what I can do, so that’s all that matters to me.”

It was the Texans that selected him with the No. 2 overall pick out of Ohio State — a smart choice, as Stroud led the team to the playoffs for the first time since the 2019 season. He did it while posting an unforgettable season that won him the NFL’s Offensive Rookie for the Year award. But at some moments, he looked like the league’s MVP, completing 63.9 percent of his passes for 4,108 yards, 167 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns over 15 games with five interceptions.

2023’s first overall pick, Bryce Young, struggled at quarterback for the Carolina Panthers. He reportedly scored a 98 on the test. The Indianapolis Colts picked quarterback Anthony Richardson at fourth overall, and he reportedly scored a 79. There’s no use in making aspersions on the seasons that those signal callers put together, as injuries and surrounding personnel created vastly different circumstances for them both.

Ultimately, whoever leaked any of the test results comes out looking the worst in this situation. Even though the inventors eventually told the Wall Street Journal that Stroud’s results could have been invalid, the comments were too little, too late.

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