Though he’s had a rocky up-and-down career in Pittsburgh featuring some intriguing highs and a number of deflating lows, there’s no denying that Steelers’ backup quarterback Mason Rudolph ranks right up there with some of the best backup quarterbacks in the NFL in his fourth season in the league.
That might be puzzling to some that read this, as the distaste for Rudolph as a quarterback and a person is alarmingly off the charts for unknown reasons. But the fact of the matter is Rudolph, with his experience and skillset, is one of the better backups across the league and is quite valuable to the Steelers this year and moving forward with a 39-year-old Ben Roethlisberger ahead of him.
NFL.com seems to agree with the stance on Rudolph, as Nick Shook of the flagship’s website ranked Rudolph No. 6 in his top 10 backup quarterback rankings across the league. Rudolph placed just ahead of Denver’s Drew Lock and Green Bay’s Jordan Love, as well as ahead of rookie sensations Justin Fields and Trey Lance in Chicago and San Francisco, respectively.
“The NFL world is rather familiar with Rudolph for more reasons than his involvement in a brawl at the end of a Thursday night game,” Shook writes. “Rudolph was called upon to replace Ben Roethlisberger, the quarterback who was NOT happy back in 2018 when the Steelers spent a third-round pick on the Oklahoma State product, and the results weren’t great. Rudolph was temporarily replaced by Devlin “Duck” Hodges in 2019 before regaining his job late, and it became apparent he likely wouldn’t end up as Roethlisberger’s successor. But Rudolph can still be counted on to produce in a one-game scenario. His performance in Pittsburgh’s 2020 season finale didn’t earn the Steelers a win (or eliminate the Browns from playoff contention, something Pittsburgh would pay for one week later), but it did underscore what we’ve come to know about Rudolph: The guy can sling it. Rudolph is at his best when throwing downfield, and he nearly threw the Steelers to a win in that Week 17 affair. He’s probably not long for Pittsburgh, but isn’t a terrible option in a pinch.”
Shook sums it up nicely, stating that while he’s probably not the long-term option in the Steel City after the Roethlisberger era ends, Rudolph is a guy that can handle the workload for a season or two, and can certainly keep the Steelers competitive if something were to happen to Roethlisberger in 2021, causing him to miss a game or two.
Fans should take solace in the fact that the backup situation is so strong in Pittsburgh, harkening back to the days of Charlie Batch, Byron Leftwich, and even Landry Jones. That said, I never saw the vitriol and outright hate for those three like I have for Rudolph.
No matter what though, Rudolph is not a terrible option, and could even throw the Steelers to some wins, much like he nearly did in Week 17 against the Cleveland Browns on the road last season.