Mason Rudolph joins the Pittsburgh Steelers as the 76th overall pick

In a bit of an unexpected move, the Pittsburgh Steelers traded up in the third round with the Seattle Seahawks. Max Starks walked to the podium, addressed booing Cincinnati Bengals fans and announced that with the 76th overall pick, the Steelers had selected quarterback Mason Rudolph of Oklahoma State.

Kevin Colbert had expressed interest in Rudolph prior to the 2018 NFL Draft, enough that several draft analysts mocked Rudolph to Pittsburgh. Coach Mike Tomlin was present at Rudolph’s Pro Day. While much of Steelers Nation was expecting the team would grab a coveted linebacker, Rudolph will don the black and gold and join Ben Roethlisberger, Landry Jones, and Joshua Dobbs. To grab Rudolph, the Steelers traded picks 79 and 220 to Seattle.

Ahead of the Draft, SCU’s Joe Kuzma wrote:

I can’t believe I’m even saying this: what if this year’s quarterback class truly is as deep with talent as the draft experts would have you believe? Should the Steelers consider taking a player who may develop into Ben Roethlisberger’s heir and an eventual franchise QB?

In order to get Roethlisberger’s successor, the Steelers may need to pull the trigger if they feel they like what they see in this year’s draft. Otherwise, there may not be the number of top prospects available in the following years to acquire one without tanking during the regular season or giving away picks needed to build a team around a new quarterback, to get a quarterback.

The Steelers watched as the guy they liked fell and pounced when the time was right. This pick is likely to get questioned by some, but quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner said, “I always keep my finger crossed that (Roethlisberger’s) healthy and he wants to play. It’d be great for us … because he’s a guy that’s going to be awful hard to replace and if it takes three guys in competition to replace him someday, so be it.”

At 6’5″, 235 pounds, Rudolph – Oklahoma State’s MVP in 2015 – showed a strong junior season, throwing for 4,091 yards and had a 28-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio. As a senior, Rudolph passed Baker Mayfield for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm and Sammy Baugh Awards. His 4,904 yards passing led the country in 2015; 37 of those tosses were touchdowns (to nine interceptions).

The upside of Rudolph is that he is well-proportioned and athletic despite being a bigger quarterback. Behind Roethlisberger, Rudolph should be able to improve what was already good pocket movement and check-downs through his reads. Rudolph has already shown an ability to use his footwork while standing tall to step up into the pocket under pressure. His accuracy¬†improved over his last two collegiate seasons and he’ll have an opportunity to look for the big strike with Pittsburgh to Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster.

There won’t be a quarterback controversy in Latrobe (PA) this year for training camp but expect heavy competition between Jones, Dobbs, and Rudolph for playing time behind Roethlisberger.

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