Now that training camp is underway, and the roster for 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 move forward.
Player: QB Mason Rudolph
Stock Value: Down
I wanted to start this week’s series off with the biggest one. But I had a hard time deciding if Mason Rudolph’s falling stock or Devlin Hdoges’ rising was more significant and noteworthy. I settled upon the failing of the starter and what that could mean for him going forward.
The former 2018 third-round pick was given the keys to the kingdom this year. It was his time to joyride with Ben Roethlisberger sidelined since the start of the second half of the second game of the season. In year two for Rudolph, he would have the reins and the opportunity to showcase himself, to convince the team that he is, indeed, the heir apparent.
While I’ve been in his corner, it’s fair to say that he decidedly has not done that. I have maintained that he will be given the season to showcase himself, and that the team should stick with him through the ups and downs. I’m not going to walk away from having said that.
I will walk back the sentiment itself, though, and that has a lot to do with the league-wide circumstances. The Steelers weren’t supposed to be competitive this year. Or if they were going to be competitive, it was supposed to have a lot more to do with Rudolph’s performance. Instead, they’re in playoff position, and it’s because of their defense. Almost in spite of their offense.
Rudolph entered the Browns game having shown, for the most part, good decision-making and ball security. Only two of the four interceptions he had thrown were on him, the other two the direct result of passes that were unquestionably dropped by his receivers.
Now he’s thrown five bad interceptions in the past six quarters of play. His decision-making his regressed. His processing speed certainly hasn’t accelerated. His accuracy is trending in the wrong direction.
If the Steelers had any shot of winning yesterday’s game, it’s fair to argue that Rudolph had to be pulled. He wasn’t playing within himself. The question now is if he can right the ship—and then, if he will get another opportunity.