It’s hard to get better insight into Ben Roethlisberger than one of his former offensive linemen. Max Starks joined the Pat McAfee Show yesterday and part of that conversation centered around the Pittsburgh Steelers drafting Mason Rudolph in the third round.
While Starks cautioned that he doesn’t believe Roethlisberger will be a bad teammate, he believes he was fired up over the team taking Rudolph, ostensibly the future of the position and Big Ben’s replacement.
“With Ben, he’s motivated because they drafted a third round quarterback in the draft and that fired him up a little bit,” Starks told the show. “it’s not like there haven’t been quarterbacks drafted in years past. It hasn’t been serious. You’ve had Landry Jones, Joshua Dobbs, but none to this degree where it’s like, ‘the future is really real for me.’ Mason Rudolph represents that.”
Roethlisberger churned up a mini-controversy after the selection, going on his radio show and not sounding particular enthused about the pick, questioning why the team didn’t get players who can help the team win now instead of banking on the future. Some of it was taken out of context, lots of it was overblown, and to Starks, he empathizes with how Roethlisberger felt.
“And it’s not Ben being a bad teammate and is going to go in there and not talk to Mason Rudolph. But at the same time, it gets those competitive juices going. Ben’s a highly competitive dude. So he has to kind of psyche himself out a little bit. But also realize, ‘I dictate this. I’m still the face of this franchise at the quarterback position. I’ll let you know when I’m done.'”
He also discussed how difficult the draft is for players compared to fans. For outsiders, it’s exciting to find new talent to help the team. For those already on the roster, it’s inherently viewed as competition and for those lower on the roster, guys who might take your job away.
Rudolph has been nothing but complimentary of Ben throughout this process and ultimately, it’s never going to be a bigger story than it was after the draft. As Starks points out, it’s still undeniably Roethlisberger’s team and Rudolph doesn’t play a single snap over these next four years, that’s a good thing for the Steelers.
But they are protecting themselves for the future and, as Kevin Colbert explained on draft day, staying true to their board, viewing Rudolph as first round talent.