The Pittsburgh Steelers were unfortunate during the 2003 season, finishing with their worst record in the Kevin Colbert era, going 6-10 and ending up with the 11th-overall draft pick. Yet they were incredibly fortunate in that three high-quality quarterbacks were available in the top 11 picks, and they were able to get one of them in Ben Roethlisberger.
Colbert and company are hoping they were even more fortunate this time around following a draft in which so many quarterbacks went in the first round that another with a first-round grade slipped all the way into the third round in Mason Rudolph.
There is the reality that Roethlisberger is getting up there in age, which is why Rudolph was taken. “At some point you need to replace those guys. Ben’s 36”, Colbert said yesterday during an interview on SiriusXM Radio.
“He wants to play for three more years? Well we think he can play for three more years. But we also know that if he is playing good for three more years we’re probably not going to ever be at that 11th pick if he’s playing like he is, so how are we ever going to replace him?”, the general manager queried in explaining why they pushed for Rudolph by the time he fell into the third round.
Colbert said that this year, similar to 2004, “was an unusual draft class. There were some top quarterbacks, and we certainly felt that Mason was amongst that group for sure. That was not even a real discussion for us. He was among that group”.
While he went on to talk about the fact that they passed on him with their first two selections because of their current roster situation, possessing a franchise quarterback still playing at a high level and targeting immediate contributors, he said that when it came to the third round, the discussion changed.
“Certainly we didn’t think he would make it until the third. Until he started to slip and we just said, ‘look, let’s take the chance that he’ll make it to us in three’. Then when he got into that range, we found Seattle was willing to take a seventh-round”, he told the host. “It was like ‘let’s make sure we get him’ because it’s really opening up the way we hoped it would, so let’s not take any further chances”.
He said a bit earlier that “a guy like Mason Rudolph isn’t going to be available very often.”, pointing out that they scouted him for two seasons. And had he been in next year’s draft, things might have been different.
“That might be a guy that in 2019 you may have been looking at him at 28”, he said. “But this year he was available to us in the third round. It was a very, very easy pick because we think at some point he could be a productive, starting, winning quarterback”.