The Pittsburgh Steelers have shown a lot of interest in Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph this offseason. They met with the quarterback at the NFL Scouting Combine, and spent some extra time with him at the Oklahoma State Pro Day recently.
This isn’t to suggest the Steelers are planning on drafting the quarterback in the upcoming draft, but it also means they are doing their homework on the skill position as a possibility when their number is called in the selection process.
It made me go back and look at the transcript of Rudolph’s interview with the media at the Combine, transcribed by Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle, and he talked about how he compares himself to none other than Ben Roethlisberger.
“I’ve always had a lot of respect for Peyton Manning, obviously. He’s not playing currently anymore, but being able to meet him at his Camp three years in a row and spend some time with him and Eli and Archie was priceless experience. I’ve always said Peyton and Ben (Roethlisberger), Big Ben, watching the way that he stands in the pocket and delivers the ball, continues to just evade the rush time and time again. So I would say those two guys.”
Manning and Roethlisberger would be two very good quarterbacks to model your play after. The cerebral approach to the game of Manning and the physicality and toughness of Roethlisberger is a good combination.
When digging a bit deeper, there are some very real similarities between Roethlisberger and Rudolph.
First, the size. Rudolph is 6-feet 5-inches tall, and weighs in at 235-pounds. Very similar numbers to Roethlisberger. The next comparison would be the love for the deep ball. Last season Rudolph saw 10-percent of his drop backs turn into passes which traveled over 25-yards. Sounds familiar to Pittsburgh fans, doesn’t it?
What Rudolph can also bring to an NFL team is how he ran a very sophisticated offense full of Run Pass Options (RPOs) at Oklahoma State. This is what he had to say about this at the Combine:
“Yeah, I think you’re always wary of getting the lineman down the field penalty. But we never ran into that much at all at Oklahoma State. I thought we ran RPOs the best in the country, the way we were able to read first, second and third of the defenders, use an off-the-ball tight end to insert. And yeah, I think you’re definitely seeing that. Especially the Eagles, those types of teams that are beginning to implement those systems. But for us that was really a first or second down call. We had a lot of drop-back, traditional progression reads that we carried out on third down. We were very effective in RPOs, but it was a small portion of our offense.”
There is interest between the Steelers and Rudolph, and if he is available at No. 28 there will be some serious consideration being done whether they pull the trigger on the move.
If the organization feels he is the future at the quarterback position, making the move makes a lot of sense. He could learn behind Roethlisberger becoming more polished, and hopefully ready to take over when Roethlisberger is ready to call it a career. Doing so would help build the quarterback bridge from one great quarterback to the next in line. Something the team didn’t do after Terry Bradshaw hung up the cleats, but could have by drafting Dan Marino in 1983.
While many would consider this draft pick frivolous, considering the other team needs, the long-term success of the franchise has to weigh into the equation, and Rudolph could be a large part of that success.