It has, quite frankly, been a long time since many people were giving any serious contemplation toward the idea of Mason Rudolph being the Pittsburgh Steelers’ starting quarterback this year. That idea died an early death as soon as they signed Mitch Trubisky. It died again when they drafted Kenny Pickett.
Different eyes, however, see different things, and it’s interesting to see sometimes how different beat writers come away with different interpretations of what they see on the practice field. Mark Kaboly of The Athletic, for example, has Rudolph as a ‘winner’ of minicamp and suggested that he looked better.
Asked if he agreed with Kaboly’s assessment, Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said, “No, I think he looks like Mason Rudolph”. Which wasn’t a compliment.
“I think he looks like the same guy. To me, he just generally doesn’t look like as good of a fit for this whole thing as Mitch Trubisky and Kenny Pickett”, he said, referring to the expanded elements of the Matt Canada offense. “I’m not about to put a third horse into the race, so to speak. I think the competition’s gonna be between the two guys we pretty much thought since late April”.
In other words, there really isn’t anything unexpected, according to Batko. It has long been the assumption that the starting quarterback job would come down to the guy whom they spent good money on in free agency and the guy whom they spent good draft capital on in April.
Drafted in the third round in 2018, Rudolph is entering his fifth season as a member of the Steelers organization. The team viewed him as a first-round talent at the time, but they were not yet in the market for their future franchise guy, so they addressed other needs at the time until the value was too strong to pass up.
Of course, he proved to be much closer to a third-round talent than a first-round talent based on his four-year body of work up to this point, and really, there haven’t been any indications that he is going to make a serious push to take over the starting job this year after Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement, even if he has been told by the team that he has that chance before him.
In fact, if seventh-round pick Chris Oladokun looks too good this offseason, Rudolph could potentially even find himself off the roster. Whether they find a trading partner for him or release him, the Steelers theoretically have three quarterbacks not named Rudolph that they feel good about already.
The last time they had four quarterbacks they felt good about, it was the veteran backup, Landry Jones, who was shown the door.