In an appearance on the NFL Network's "Path to the Draft," Pittsburgh Steelers rookie quarterback Mason Rudolph said he understood Ben Roethlisberger's comments after the veteran expressed surprise at the team drafting a QB this offseason (h/t Lauren Kirschman of PennLive.com).
"If I was Ben, I'd probably say the same thing. He's a competitor. Obviously, he has a lot of confidence in himself, like I do. He's going to be a future Hall of Famer and I would expect him to say that. I'm just looking forward to going in there and learning the system, competing and raising my level of play. Preparing like I'm the starter even though I obviously won't be the starter. Just waiting, waiting and being prepared for whenever I get my time. When my time comes, to be ready and take advantage of it."
Roethlisberger, who revealed last week he plans to play three to five more years, said on 93.7 The Fan that he felt the Steelers could have used the third-round pick where Rudolph was selected to address other needs on the roster (h/t Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com):
"I was surprised when they took a quarterback because I thought that maybe in the third round, you know you can get some really good football players that can help this team now. Nothing against Mason; I think he's a great football player. I don't know him personally, but I'm sure he's a great kid. I just don't know how backing up or being a third [string]—well, who knows where he's going to fall on the depth chart—helps us win now.
"But, you know, that's not my decision to make. That's on the coaches and the GM and the owner and those kind of things. If they think he can help our team, so be it, but I was a little surprised."
Suffice to say, there was a mixed response to Roethlisberger's candid comments:
Mark Kaboly @MarkKaboly
It has nothing to do with Roethlisberger feeling insecure about his job (come on). It’s about him wanting to win a SB and the organization making the offense worse (in the short term with swap of Bryant for Washington) and not providing “now” help with a valuable 3rd round pick.
Roethlisberger is 36 and has missed seven games in the past three years, so it wasn't shocking that the Steelers would begin preparing for the future. Big Ben was solid once again last season, throwing for 4,251 yards, 28 touchdowns and 14 interceptions while completing 64.2 percent of his passes, so there's reason to believe he'll remain a top quarterback going forward.
In Rudolph, the Steelers added a young player to groom for the future or potentially trade down the line for other assets, similar to how the New England Patriots handled the Jimmy Garoppolo situation. Rudolph, who threw for 13,618 yards, 92 touchdowns and 26 interceptions in four seasons at Oklahoma State, seems to be taking Big Ben's comments in stride.