Now that the 2019 season is over, with a team other than ours having been crowned champion and there being much work to do to return to that status, 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 season, and with notice to anything that happens going forward.
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: Up
Another one of the few players whom we can say that we’ve actually seen his stock improve since the offseason began would be quarterback Mason Rudolph, whom the Steelers appear to be committing to as their backup quarterback for the 2020 season as Ben Roethlisberger looks to make his return from an elbow injury.
A third-round draft pick in 2018, Rudolph spent his rookie season on the bench as the number three quarterback, but earned the backup job last season, and of course he was asked to do a lot once Roethlisberger went down just six quarters into 2019.
While the team did manage to go 5-3 in the eight games that he started—and one of those losses was an overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens in which he was injured, with Devlin Hodges taking over—there was plenty of room for criticism of his actual performance.
This is not unknown to the Steelers, considering the fact that they literally benched him in the second half of the season in favor of Hodges, who would start the final five games of the year, and six overall. But Hodges was later benched for Rudolph as well, until the latter was injured.
But despite numerous questions, most recently directed at general manager Kevin Colbert, about if the team will be targeting a veteran backup this offseason, given Roethlisberger’s status, the universal response has been no, that they are “comfortable” with Rudolph in that role moving forward.
Specifically, Colbert cited the work that Rudolph put in that we didn’t see after he was benched, and the way that he did play once he got another opportunity to get on the field, until he was injured. These were encouraging signs that leave the organization optimistic about what he could contribute in 2020 if called upon once again.