It’s actually been a couple of years now that we have slowly and subtly been beginning to connect the dots between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the eventual successor to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Last year, for example, people were talking about Patrick Mahomes, a quarterback some thought might fall to Pittsburgh, but who of course went far higher.
Mahomes was brought in for a pre-draft visit last year, and Roethlisberger even dropped in during the visit while he was going over film to introduce himself. The Kansas City Chiefs quarterback said prior to the draft when he was asked about the visit that he hoped he would get toe learn from him someday. Instead he learned from Alex Smith.
This year’s Mahomes is clearly Mason Rudolph, who like Mahomes was brought in for a pre-draft visit and who also was extensively scouted by the team at his Pro Day. Many mock drafts have connected him to the Steelers going back for months already.
The OSU quarterback makes frequent appearances on the NFL Network’s Path to the Draft program and was asked during his most recent appearance if coming into Pittsburgh and being groomed behind Roethlisberger is a scenario he would embrace.
“Definitely”, he said. “That’s one of the scenarios that would be an awesome opportunity to learn”. He added that “if I was to land there it’s not Ben’s responsibility to teach me the offense, it’s my responsibility to learn it and ask questions”, which is the sort of attitude you would like to hear.
“It would definitely be an awesome chance to watch a guy like that produce for however long he keeps playing and then step in”, he added, “and obviously prepare like a starter [in the meantime], knowing that I’m only one play away”.
He talked about how that scenario came up during his freshman season in college, expecting to have a redshirt year, but the starter was injured and he was forced to step up. He said that he felt prepared, but it also made him realize how important it is to be prepared with a starter’s mentality at all times.
One question that he wanted to address was the perception that he has a limited knowledge of the game and of pro-style offenses playing out of the spread (even though pro offenses are becoming more and more a reflection of the college game).
He said that there is a perception that he has “a limited amount of responsibility on my plate”, but told the host that he actually bears a lot of responsibility for the offense and has the authority to audible in and out of plays to get his group into the look that he wants.
If the Steelers do end up drafting Rudolph, one thing is for sure, and that is that we will have already heard from him and his hypothetical relationship with the Steelers quite a bit. But like Mahomes, he could be long gone by the time Pittsburgh selects.