Steelers Draft Mason Rudolph, Ben Roethlisberger's Possible Successor

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistApril 28, 2018

STILLWATER, OK - NOVEMBER 04: Quarterback Mason Rudolph #2 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys looks to throw against the Oklahoma Sooners at Boone Pickens Stadium on November 4, 2017 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Oklahoma defeated Oklahoma State 62-52.  (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
Brett Deering/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers hope to have found their quarterback of the future after selecting Mason Rudolph out of Oklahoma State with the No. 76 pick of the 2018 NFL draft Friday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. 

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Big Ben’s successor? Steelers select QB Mason Rudolph with the No. 76 pick https://t.co/FQHcbWOlgP

The Steelers strengthened the passing game earlier in the day when they selected Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington in the second round at No. 60 overall. In Rudolph, Pittsburgh is taking a long-term outlook with Ben Roethlisberger locked in as the starter for at least 2018.

Many commented on how Rudolph and Washington will continue their successful partnership in the Steel City:

Chris Fallica @chrisfallica

Steelers take Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph 76th overall. In 2012 Russell Wilson was the 75th overall pick. Steelers also took Rudolph's favorite target- WR James Washington in the 2nd round.

Tyler Palmateer @Tpalmateer83

Some buzzing in the OSU press box just now as the Steelers draft QB Mason Rudolph. Rudolph and James Washington stay together.

Max Olson @max_olson

Mason Rudolph and James Washington sticking together in Pittsburgh. Awesome.

Chase Goodbread @ChaseGoodbread

Mason Rudolph gets his favorite target, James Washington, in Pittsburgh. The two of them had major chemistry. Worked out for teams together in lockstep.

Eric Galko @OptimumScouting

And there goes Quarterback Mason Rudolph! #Steelers pair him with his receiver James Washington, and find Ben Roethlisberger's long-term replacement. Awesome fit.

Here's how others reacted to the pick:

Tom Fornelli @TomFornelli

(Mason Rudolph will have a better NFL career than at least two of the QBs taken before him)

Bucky Brooks @BuckyBrooks

The @Steelers spent a lot of time chatting with Mason Rudolph at Oklahoma State's Pro Day. I'm not surprised that he is the pick after watching Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin spend a lot of time with him after the workout. #NFLDraft

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

At pick No. 76, in round 3, Pittsburgh traded up to Seattle’s spot and drafted Oklahoma St. QB Mason Rudolph. Another potential successor to Ben Roethlisberger. Three of the four AFC North teams now have picked QBs in these top 3 rounds, starting with Baker Mayfield at No. 1.

Jeremy Fowler @JFowlerESPN

And there’s the QB. Mason Rudolph to Steelers at No. 76. They liked him throughout the draft process and take advantage of his fall.

Shane P. Hallam @ShanePHallam

#Steelers viewed Mason Rudolph as a young Ben Roethlisberger type. Big, strong arm, can sidestep pass rush. He will be groomed as the heir apparent to Big Ben.

The team traded up in order to get Rudolph, announcing it sent the 79th and 220th picks to the Seattle Seahawks.

Rudolph was one of the most productive quarterbacks in college football throughout his career, leading the nation with 4,904 passing yards in 2017 to go with his 37 touchdowns and nine interceptions. His 170.6 efficiency rating was the third-best in FBS.

The three-year starter totaled 13,618 passing yards during his college career, good enough for 11th-most in NCAA history, per Sports Reference.

While he had talented receivers around him like Washington, the quarterback didn't rely upon yards after catch as much as some others in the class, as Chris Trapasso of CBSSports.com highlighted:

Chris Trapasso @ChrisTrapasso

Percentage of 2017 season passing yards in air, per @PFF: Josh Allen: 66.4 Mason Rudolph: 61.3 Mike White: 58.9 Lamar Jackson: 56.5 Josh Rosen: 53.1 Kyle Lauletta: 52.9 Sam Darnold: 52.6 Baker Mayfield: 52.3 Luke Falk: 37.5

He also benefited from a great offensive system at Oklahoma State. But Rudolph doesn't believe this defines him.

"I've been tagged with the system label for a long time now," he told Bleacher Report's Brent Sobleski in February. "If you watch the film, I was asked to throw the ball in ways that marry up with NFL concepts. ... My production increased in each of the past three seasons and won a lot of ballgames along the way."

On the downside, the quarterback doesn't have great arm strength for his 6'3", 235-pound frame. He also lacks mobility and can struggle when facing pressure.

Bleacher Report's Matt Miller listed him as the No. 6 quarterback in the class to go with a Round 2 grade.

The Steelers still see plenty of upside in Rudolph, though, and he could be the heir apparent for Roethlisberger when he retires. The 36-year-old veteran said he plans to return in 2018, but he seems to be making that decision on a year-by-year basis.

Although the team drafted Joshua Dobbs in the fourth round last season, there will apparently be some competition to replace Roethlisberger in the future.


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