Once you get past whatever dissatisfaction you might hold over the Pittsburgh Steelers using any draft resource on a quarterback when you have Ben Roethlisberger saying that he could play for another five seasons (maaaaaaybe), I think it’s pretty hard not to feel some sort of excitement over the prospect of Mason Rudolph.
There aren’t a lot of quarterbacks that get fairly compared to Roethlisberger coming out and to be fair they haven’t really panned out that well (thinking of Josh Freeman and Blake Bortles), but Rudolph seems to have his head where it needs to be, both on and off the field. It seems like a good fit for both parties.
Pro Football Focus is among those who agree. The website has been high on Rudolph all along, having him as a first-rounder for this draft class even though he went all the way in the third. They recently published an article about their impressions of where each quarterback landed and really seemed to be high on the fit with Pittsburgh.
“Rudolph fell in to an ideal spot for his development both organizationally and schematically”, Zac Robinson argued. “Much of Rudolph’s game can look similar to Roethlisberger, with the ability to throw the ball over the top of the defense on post and go routes, as well as extending the play from the pocket to find throws”.
Robinson also notes that even with a change in play-calling responsibility, the Steelers are going to remain routed in the same offensive philosophy that prioritizes the 11 personnel package, and the fact that they used the pick before Rudolph on a wide receiver only helps to make that point.
Noting the fact that that wide receiver addition was his college teammate, James Washington, it was noted that the pairing “could serve well down the road, as the two connected for more 20-plus yard passing plays than any duo in the country in 2017”.
Steve Palazzalo also added that Rudolph was among the most effective deep-ball throwers not just last season—when he led the nation with 17 touchdowns on such passes—but for the entire three-year span in which he was the Cowboys’ full-time starter.
And that fits like a glove with Pittsburgh’s offensive identity, which has seen Roethlisberger finish among the top four in terms of the percentage of his throws that were deep targets in each of the past three seasons.
Of course what he did in college doesn’t really matter anymore. It’s what Rudolph does during his professional career that is of importance, and that will determine whether or not, and when, he gets on the field.
He could be waiting for a while behind Roethlisberger depending upon how much longer he intends to play, and how well he continues to play, but if a scenario arises that the Steelers have two legitimate starting quarterbacks, it’s not a problem I’m going to find myself lamenting.