Mason Rudolph expected to be a first-round pick entering the pre-draft process. The Oklahoma State product, however, ended up slipping to the third round, even though he happened to have been taken by the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team who took the (unusual for them) step of actually stating that they had a first-round grade on him.
One thing that has been clear about him all along is that he has a lot of confidence in himself and his belief that he is capable of playing at this level. He had a chip on his shoulder after being valued beneath the likes of Josh Rosen and Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen, and stated that he believed he could have stepped in and played immediately the way some others did, which is common for quarterbacks now.
So his comments that he made yesterday after the news came out that Ben Roethlisberger would be out for the rest of the season were not particularly surprising. “You want to play; you’re pissed”, he said about being the number three quarterback in 2018. “I tried to have a long-term mentality and understand that hopefully you’ll be playing this game for a long time, and as long as I’m ready for my opportunity, that’s all that matters”.
“I worked for this and I wanted to be in this position. That was always the plan. Would I liked it to have happened sooner, maybe last year? Yeah”, he added in another answer to a different question. Translation: Rudolph intends to be a starter for a long time in the NFL.
2019 will give himself, the Steelers, and frankly, the rest of the league the chance to get a long look at him and a chance to see if he really has the sort of ability, and production, that indicates the possibility of being a starter, whether a long-term option or otherwise.
Not a lot of third-round picks end up in that role. The vast majority of starting quarterbacks are first-rounders, but there are always exceptions, such as Russell Wilson, who started the first game of his first season and hasn’t stopped since then.
“I’m excited”, Rudolph said about the opportunity laid out in front of him. “It’s a sucky circumstance with our leader and a good friend going down, but he would want me to step up and try to lead to the best of my ability, and that’s what I’ve always believed in, that’s what I’m going to do. Just excited to get some more practice reps, so that’ll be fun to go into a game and feel more rehearsed and prepared”.
What comes after all this? It should be interesting to see how this year plays out, and how the relative trajectories of his path and Roethlisberger’s cross between now and 2021. Roethlisberger has already said he will complete his contract. That runs in conjunction with Rudolph’s.