clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Can Mason Rudolph snub the history of third round quarterbacks?

Will Mason Rudolph buck the trend of third round quarterbacks in Steelers history?

NFL: SEP 15 Seahawks at Steelers Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

When Ben Roethlisberger started flexing his arm and rubbing his elbow on Sunday causing a sense of dread rolling through Steelers Nation. Fans worst fears came into focus when the announcement came out the future Hall of Famer would be lost for the season because of elbow surgery.

The Mason Rudolph speculation started when Roethlisberger headed to the locker room before half of the Steelers home loss to the Seattle Seahawks. The BTSC boards were on fire from the Rudolph fan club. They harken back to when Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert made a bold and controversial statement about the former Oklahoma State Cowboys.

“He was with the group of the top quarterbacks,” Colbert said, via “That was a really good position. That’s very unique to the draft. It usually doesn’t come through with a nice group like that. … We haven’t had that much depth at the top of the draft at [quarterback] in a long time. Mason was certainly a part of that group in our opinion.”

Plenty of Steelers fans were talking this past week about now is the time for Rudolph to start his journey down the path to becoming the face of Pittsburgh and the franchise quarterback for years to come. I scratched my head over this. What have fans seen so far? Meaningless preseason games where he never played against starters. Rudolph has 113 passing yards in a half against the Seahawks but that is the same defense that was throttled by Andy Dalton the week before for over 400 yards passing. Can Rudolph become the face of the Steelers franchise and the next franchise quarterback for the six-time Super Bowl champions?

Time to define what I view a true franchise quarterback is. My criteria will not be the same as others but my view is at least the starting point for discussion.

1: A franchise quarterback is one who elevates everyone around him even when chunks of the team are underperforming. A quarterback you win with “because of” not “in spite of”.

2: The team he plays for is not actively searching for a quarterback to replace him in the near future.

3: NFL teams will pay substantial sums of guaranteed money on a second or third contract or at least negotiating them. Putting the quarterback into the top tier or close to it in terms of cap hit.

4: A franchise quarterback needs to put up legit numbers and win more games than they lose. One that the coach and fans can count on to at least put up a heck of a fight in a close game.

How easy is it to find a franchise quarterback in the third round? Time to dig through those numbers since Roethlisberger and his rookie season through when Rudolph was drafted.

The list of quarterbacks drafted from 2004 to 2019. (20)

Mason Rudolph 2018

Davis Webb 2017

C.J. Beathard 2017

Jacoby Brissett 2016

Cody Kessler 2016

Garrett Grayson 2015

Sean Mannion 2015

Mike Glennon 2013

Russell Wilson 2012

Nick Foles 2012

Ryan Mallett 2011

Colt McCoy 2010

Kevin O’Connell 2008

Trent Edwards 2007

Charlie Whitehurst 2006

Brodie Croyle 2006

Charlie Frye 2005

Andrew Walter 2005

David Greene 2005

Matt Schaub 2004

Time to break down that unwieldy list into something useful we can use.

3: The number of quarterbacks on the list who never attempted an NFL pass. (Green, O’Connell, and Webb)

6: The number of quarterbacks on the list who have not started half a season. (Green, O’Connell, Webb, Rudolph, Grayson, and Mannion)

8: The number of quarterbacks who have started at least 16 games in their careers. (Wilson, Schaub, Foles, Edwards, McCoy, Frye, Glennon, and Brissett)

8: The number of quarterbacks who are still in the NFL.

3: The number of quarterbacks with a career winning record.

2: The number of quarterbacks who saw a substantial long term contract. (Wilson and Schaub. While Foles is on a $22 million per year deal, he comes in as the 16th average per year.)

3: The number of quarterbacks who have been selected to the Pro Bowl. (Wilson, Schaub, and Foles)

0: All-Pro selection.

2: The number of quarterbacks I would say were franchise quarterbacks drafted in the third round. (Wilson and Schaub)

Some may say that Schaub was not a true franchise quarterback, but he fits my criteria. The problem with Schaub is that his career cratered so quickly because of his infatuation with throwing pick-sixes. He just made the Houston Texans regret the long-term deal he signed in 2012.

Rudolph has a mountain of history to climb over, let alone silencing skeptical concerns from fans such as myself. He should get plenty of time over the next 14 games to show fans that he truly was a first-round selection that inexplicably slipped to the third round, unless he implodes or gets injured. I hope that Colbert was not just blowing smoke, but saw what so many others did not see and that he can mature into a true franchise quarterback. One that can lead the Steelers back to the playoffs this season and possibly for seasons to come and slip that seventh ring onto the hands of Steelers Nation.