Mason Rudolph thought there was a good chance he would be a first-round draft pick in 2018. He probably didn’t expect slipping all the way to the third round. And certainly not after five other teams had already taken a quarterback.
Now that he is the starting quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers for the remaining 14 games in 2019, however, he has the opportunity for a revenge tour, to show the five teams who drafted those quarterbacks—and the five teams who currently own those five quarterbacks—what they passed up on. Not that some of them will mind.
Incredibly, the Steelers play all five of the teams who drafted quarterbacks in the first round last year, as well as all five of the teams who currently own those quarterback. Of course, two of them are in the AFC North, so that much is easy.
And they’re the only ones who’ve won any games yet. Lamar Jackson is setting records for the Baltimore Ravens en route to a 2-0 start as the 32nd-overall pick. The Steelers play them for the first time in Week Five, the first shot Rudolph will have at any of his ‘Brady Six’.
Then there’s of course Baker Mayfield, the first-overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. He has the Browns at 1-1 for the time being a year after breaking the rookie record for touchdown passes in a season. The Steelers will play them in Weeks 11 and 13.
All three of the other quarterbacks are currently in the AFC East. Sam Darnold is with the New York Jets, and the Steelers don’t play them until Week 16, so he should be well over his illness by then. Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills will be coming into town the week before that.
The other quarterback was Josh Rosen. He was originally drafted by the Arizona Cardinals, whom the Steelers will play on the road in Week 14. The Cardinals traded Rosen after drafting Kyler Murray, whom they will face.
And he was traded to the Miami Dolphins, who are now considering starting. The Steelers play the Dolphins in Week Eight, so it’s entirely possible that Rudolph starts against all five of them over the course of the year.
And in the case of Rosen, the Cardinals are a team who not only drafted a player they thought was better than Rudolph, but who was also not important enough to keep around for even more than one season, just to add a bit more to the sting.
Rudolph will make his first career start this Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers on the west coast, where the Steelers have historically struggled. He’ll have two games to get himself acclimated before he squares off against Jackson, the first on the list.