Is it possible for a quarterback drafted within the first two days of the draft to not receive a tremendous amount of attention over the course of his first offseason? The only example I can think of—and I’m just working off of memory, which could be quite wrong—was Jimmy Garoppolo, because he came in behind Tom Brady, who vowed to play until the Sun goes supernova and incinerates the Earth.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger still talks about taking his future playing career year-by-year all the while noting that he feels like he can play for five more years, and thus doesn’t understand why somebody actively rethinking his future every year might cause his employer to want to invest in its own future.
That’s basically where we find ourselves with Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph, whom the Steelers traded up in the third round to draft this year because they had a first-round grade on him. General Manager Kevin Colbert said that in a year in which quarterback was a bigger need, he would have been a player they would be looking at in the first round.
Rudolph just completed his first series of Organized Training Activities with the veterans on the roster, and he came away impressed by his new teammates, citing specifically wide receiver Antonio Brown and tight end Jesse James, two of the longest-tenured skill-position players on the roster.
“Guys like [Brown], guys like Jesse James that are so cerebral, so smart at what they do and how they prepare, how they work, it’s impressive to be around”, the rookie told Jacob Klinger reporting for PennLive.
He did get on himself for struggling to connect with Brown so far, lamenting over one pass that he threw too short on Tuesday, but Marcus Tucker said that Rudolph and his college teammate, James Washington, had great chemistry in their reps together, calling one deep connection “beautiful, right on the money”.
Klinger writes that the quarterback joked about not having the leeway yet to throw blindly to Brown as Roethlisberger does, stressing that he has to go through his reads. I’m just going to hope that nobody jumps on this as a dig at the veteran quarterback and move on.
It’s going to be a long offseason for the quarterbacks behind Big Ben this year as they compete for two roster spots, and the right to be the backup quarterback. Presumably, the backup job will be fought between Landry Jones and Rudolph. Should Jones lose the backup job, he could also lose his roster spot to Joshua Dobbs.
In the meantime, there will be people hanging on his every word and meticulously breaking down every practice report, all the while reading into it exactly what they want to read, whether it’s slanted positively or negatively. The beauty of the offseason.