Despite a dramatic start to his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers following his selection with the 76th pick of the 2018 NFL draft, the debut season of Mason Rudolph was a quiet one. Finishing the year as the only player on the 53-man not to dress for a game, the former Oklahoma State quarterback was relegated to the role of clip board holder during his rookie season, left to watch and learn from the sidelines.
Seemingly unfazed by the consternation surrounding his selection back in April and the expectations placed upon him from outside the organization, Rudolph appears eager to get back to work as soon as possible. Acutely aware of the reason the Steelers’ drafted him, it would appear that the young quarterback is focused on making that ambition a reality in Pittsburgh. As he told John Buhler of Fansided last week when appearing at a promotional event for Panini.
“I don’t listen to the outside world. I know why they brought me here. It’s to be the quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers one day. And that’s why I’m so fired up to get back to practice and get back to the facility this April…There is no pressure, man. I always have high goals for myself. I put enough pressure on myself to perform and to produce.”
If Rudolph is to end up as Ben Roethlisberger’s successor, it will be in part because of the veteran quarterback, even if Big Ben did not initially welcome his arrival. Contrary to his remarks earlier in the year suggestions otherwise, Roethlisberger has actually been a willing source of information according to Rudolph.
“He was definitely open to a lot of suggestions from me. Any questions I had, he was very willing to answer. I understood that he had a job to do primarily, and that was to win games this year. You know, I never wanted to make him feel like I was a burden, but that didn’t happen.”
Watching Roethlisberger from the sidelines also appears to have been a lesson for Rudolph in its own right, with the rookie quarterback clearly impressed with the way the veteran operates the no-huddle offense.
“We do a lot of no-huddle. A lot of times, he’ll call a play with little to no one on the sidelines knowing what it is, other than his receivers on the field. It’s pretty impressive. He’s got a great natural ability to create and to put things together to move us down the field.”
With the Steelers expected to approach Roethlisberger about a contract extension this offseason, Rudolph may be waiting a little longer than he thought to get his chance under center. However, it would be fair to say that his main priority in 2019 should be securing the backup role over Joshua Dobbs if he hopes to keep himself in the frame for future consideration as the starter.