The Pittsburgh Steelers surprised a few people this past weekend when they selected former Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph in the third-round of the 2018 NFL Draft and starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was one of them. Roethlisberger, who was interviewed Friday morning on 93.7 the Fan, let it be known that he was indeed surprised that the Steelers drafted Rudolph in the third-round even though he made an early offseason commitment to playing at least three more seasons.
“Yeah, I told them right away so it wasn’t like it was a big surprise,” Roethlisberger said about him telling the team immediately after the 2017 season had ended that he wants to play at least three more seasons if he can stay healthy. “I wanted them to know so that they wouldn’t have to worry about drafting a quarterback. Because you talk about guys being fair, I know Heath Miller, when he retired, when you retire, you want to make that known to the team because you want to be fair to the team. You want to give them ample time to figure out your replacement, or whatever. So, I wanted to make sure that there was no questions and they didn’t have to think about it.
“I told them when the season was over I felt really good and was planning on coming back for three to five years, exactly what I just told you guys. So, I was surprised when they took a quarterback because I thought that maybe in the third-round, you know, you can get some really good football players that can help this team now. And nothing against Mason, I think he’s a great football player, I don’t know him personally, but I’m sure he’s a great kid, I just don’t know how backing up or being the third guy, who knows where he’s going to fall on the depth chart, but helps us win now. But, you know, that’s not my decision to make. That’s on the coaches and the GM and owner, and those kinds of things. So, if they feel like he can help our team, so be it, but I was a little surprised.”
Roethlisberger was then asked what the reaction from the Steelers was when he let them know several months ago that he intends on playing at least three more seasons and maybe even longer.
“A very positive one,” Roethlisberger said. “They were very thankful. I think excited, you know, that I felt committed to that and committed to them early, and those kinds of things. So, I felt like it was a very positive reaction from all of them.”
Later in the interview, Roethlisberger was asked if he feels any extra or added responsibility now to take Rudolph under his wing as a result of the Steelers building up the young quarterback ever since they selected him in the third-round.
“Well, I don’t think I’ll need to now that he’s said that he doesn’t need me. So if he ask me a question, I might have to just point to the playbook, you know,” Roethlisberger joked.
Roethlisberger was of course making light of what Rudolph said right after the Steelers drafted him.
“It’s not Ben [Roethlisberger’s] job to teach me anything. It’s my job to learn and that is the way I am going to look at it,” Rudolph said. “Obviously, you’re sitting behind an unbelievable player and a good dude, so we’ll just kind of take it day by day and try to learn what I can each and every day.”
Roethlisberger continued on with his thoughts on the matter of possibly needing to help develope Rudolph.
“I think the biggest thing is I need to get myself prepared to play, right? I mean that’s the first priority,” Roethlisberger said. “In the past, I’ve helped Landry [Jones] with stuff, I’ve helped Josh [Dobbs] if they have questions, but first priority is getting myself ready to play because as far as I know, I’m still the starter. So, I need to get myself ready to go, ready to play to win a championship.
“And I think that’s one of the great things about what Landry I think will do, and has done, is the backup quarterback’s role is one; to get the starter ready, but two; make sure he’s ready to go, too. But he’s kind of accepted a role of sort of helping the young guys way more than I kinda had to or need to. Maybe he’s done that to take off my plate a little bit because he understands the preparation that I need to have for myself. So, I think Landry will really kind of a spearhead that and I mean, listen, if he asks me a question, I’ll help him, but I just need to make sure that I’m ready to go first and foremost.”
Roethlisberger later gave his thoughts about there now being four quarterbacks on the Steelers roster and how he wonders what might ultimately happen to either Landry Jones or Joshua Dobbs now that the Steelers have a third-round draft pick invested in Rudolph. He was first asked if he has talked to Dobbs since Rudolph was drafted.
“Him [Dobbs] and Landry, those two guys are who I feel the worst for,” Roethlisberger said. “I’ll be honest, I wasn’t worried about him [Rudolph] coming and taking my job. I feel confident that I can go out and beat whoever I need to beat out for my job, that’s just the kind of confidence I have in myself. Yeah, I do feel bad for those guys because you know, Landry, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I assume Landry’s still the two, I don’t really know and Josh, same thing. Last year you take him in the fourth-round, so does that mean the Steelers, like, screwed up in that pick? Like do they think that he wasn’t the one that they thought, or has he not developed the way they thought? Why else would you take a quarterback in the third round the next year?”
Well, I’m guessing many of you reading this post aren’t overly surprised by what Roethlisberger said during his Friday interview. Even so, what Rudolph said about it not being Roethlisberger’s job to mentor him was done so with respect. I realize Roethlisberger was just having a little bit of fun with Rudolph’s comments, but he should cut the rookie some slack, in my opinion. If Roethlisberger wants to be upset with anyone right now, it should be with general manager Kevin Colbert, as he’s the one that ultimately made the decision to trade up and in the third-round to draft Rudolph.
I’m sure we’ll be posting more about this topic as the offseason progresses but it’s clear that Roethlisberger wasn’t overly happy with the Steelers decision to use a third-round draft pick on Rudolph being as the young quarterback isn’t likely to be a position to help the Steelers on the field for at least a few more years and maybe even longer.
“The key is, for me, I’m always going to take it one season at a time,” Roethlisberger said Friday. “I’m going to give everything this year and lay it all on the line like I do every week, for this season, for my guys, everything like that. And then just really kind of at the end of the season, you know, it’s the same thing. You go through the evaluation process of how you feel and I just want it to be really clear that I would love to, if my body feels the way it does now. I love the linemen in front of me, the close relationship I have with them, the youth that we have on our team, all those things. Lots of prayer and talk with my family and my wife and stuff just made me think that I think if staying healthy, I think I could do this for another three to five years.”