The Pittsburgh Steelers drew mixed reactions from the fan base when they used their first of two third-round picks in the 2018 NFL Draft on quarterback Mason Rudolph out of Oklahoma, even using a late-round pick to trade up a few spots to select him.
Rudolph was the sixth quarterback selected in the draft, and the first one after the first round, with none being taken in the third. While he was not thrilled with the fact that he fell as far as he did, and expressed great confidence in his ability to succeed in any of the places the other quarterbacks went, ne nonetheless expressed satisfaction in landing where he did.
“It’s going to be advantageous having a whole season under my belt”, he told Straight Talk host Chris Miller a couple of days ago. “It was extremely tough from the standpoint that I haven’t played football in an actual game snap for the first time in a long time, but I attack practice with a great motivation. My preparation, I try to prepare like the starter, I try to prepare harder than the starter because I wasn’t taking the physical beating on Sunday”.
General Manager Kevin Colbert recently praised Rudolph’s performance during the preseason as a rookie, even though he served as the number three quarterback behind Joshua Dobbs in the regular season. He also expressed strong feelings about his practice work running the scout team.
Rudolph suggested that Head Coach Mike Tomlin deserves some credit for that, because he helped the young quarterback remain engaged in what the Steelers were doing by making him feel as though his contributions were valued.
“I tried to help out the team any way I could with our offense, with Ben. He’s kind of got his own preparation, his routine, which has worked for him for a long time, so you never want to try to be a nuisance, but he and the offensive staff were very open to suggestions”, he said.
“Coach Tomlin’s mantra is ‘I don’t care where good ideas come from’, so he’s encouraging me as well as the other role players to provide information or a tip here and there, tendencies that we’ve seen on film, so that kind of motivated me to really study hard through the week and maybe add something at a critical situational point in the game on a Sunday”.
“That kept me in it when practice was really the only physical chance that I got to compete”, Rudolph told Miller, and I think that’s a pretty big deal for a young player in his position. The Steelers drafted him because they saw him as a first-round talent and couldn’t pass up on his value.
Surely the expectation for 2019 will be for him to advance to the backup role behind Ben Roethlisberger. But he will have the wrestle that job away from Dobbs, going into his third season after winning the backup job himself from Landry Jones in 2018.