Now that the 2019 NFL Draft is underway, and the roster heading into the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we head toward training camp.
Player: QB Mason Rudolph
Stock Value: Up
This stock report is not based on any one particular recent occurrence or detail, but rather a general, and seemingly obvious, assessment of the natural maturation of a second-year player. We haven’t heard from Mason Rudolph on the field just yet, or any accounts of his performance through the first three sessions of OTAs, but we know that he has not been idle this offseason.
He has already talked to reporters, primarily via the team’s own website, about how his offseason has gone. Among the details that he has revealed is that he has been working on his own with a private quarterbacks coach to gain additional work and insight, which is the sort of proactive step you’d like to see for a young player, especially a number three quarterback whose workload is going to be scarce until he moves up the food chain.
He also talked about how he was keeping in communication with his teammates, making sure he was on the same page with everything, and hinted that he and James Washington—four-year teammates at Oklahoma State—planned to get together at some point in the offseason and get some work in.
A third-round pick in 2018 at the quarterback position, Rudolph was a value selection from the front office because they viewed him as a first-round talent. While Ben Roethlisberger is now under contract for the next three years—as is Rudolph—the young passer will have the opportunity to grow under him, and whatever comes up after that will be partly determined by him.
His obvious objective for the 2019 season, however, is to beat out his direct competition, which in this case is Joshua Dobbs, the quarterback that they drafted the year before him. Dobbs served as Roethlisberger’s backup in 2018, though with mixed results, his spot work against the Oakland Raiders a contributor to their losing that game.
Earlier this offseason, Rudolph said that he felt that he was capable of playing, if he had to, late in the year in 2018, admitting that he wasn’t quite ready by comparison at the start of the season. His recognition of his own growth is a comforting sign for me.