The NFL Draft is just like any other part of the offseason that takes place before any real on-field work is being done. Fans get to be filled with aspirations for what their team will achieve. Teams who struggle have fans who have dreams of turning around, while fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers just want everybody fired because nobody knows what they’re doing here anymore and where’s Dan Kreider?
But the draft more than anything is the purest form of football fantasy, in my opinion, because you’re dealing with players who have never been on this stage, and you never know who is going to rise to the occasion or sink under the pressure. There will always be positive and negative surprises regarding who shows up and who doesn’t.
The Steelers this year are hoping that they brought in a pair of teammates who are going to show up for a long time, even if it might take at least one of them a while to carve out much of a role. Quarterback Mason Rudolph and wide receiver James Washington spent four years at Oklahoma State playing pitch and catch. Who knows how long they might do that now in Pittsburgh.
Washington was taken before Rudolph, in the second round, so he didn’t know at the time that his teammate would be following, but the quarterback was asked what it was like to go to the same team as his college teammate once he got selected and if he had any idea it might happen that way.
“Not at all. No sir”, he said after he was drafted in a conference call with the media regarding the latter. “I always thought that there had been a connection kind of since the beginning. You go back to when we played there back in September but I had no clue this was in the works”.
Rudolph and the Oklahoma State Cowboys dominated that game, the quarterback throwing for just a hair under 500 yards with five touchdown passes. Washington caught five passes for 124 yards, though it was Jalen McCleskey with the real big game, going for 162 and three touchdowns on seven receptions. Still, Rudolph and Washington were a highly productive tandem for the better part of four years, and the end zone was no exclusion to that success.
Go get to write “the next chapter with one of your brothers with your best receiver that you’ve spent your whole college day with that you can potentially spend another 15 years with, that’s going to be one heck of a ride and I can’t wait to get it going”, Rudolph told reporters about staying together with Washington.
He clearly intends to be around for a while, talking about another 15 years. That’s a great career for a quarterback, and an incredible one for a wide receiver. Even John Stallworth fell one year short of hitting 15 seasons. The same with Hines Ward. But I won’t complain if they’re both still around in the 2030s.