Why Mason Rudolph has been underappreciated

As the dust settles from the 2020 NFL draft, now is the time when Steelers fans will be forming their narratives on what we can expect this season.

The biggest question we all had was “will Big Ben come back?”

Now that we know he will be back for the 2020 season, there are questions about the Steelers quarterback depth and whether Mason Rudolph is a proper backup – and not a “bust.”

Many fans and critics claimed that the Steelers “must take a quarterback in this draft.”

Now I want to explain why I think the Steelers made the right decision to keep faith in Rudolph.

One argument that I have seen is the comparison between Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges. Both quarterbacks had their turns leading the offense in the 2019 season. Both had their bright spots but also had their fair share of eyesores.

However, I believe that Mason is by far, the better quarterback of the two.

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Just comparing their stats, Rudolph finished the season with 1,756 yds, 13 TDs, and 9 INTs. Four of his turnovers came from their week 11 loss to Cleveland. Hodges finished his season with 1,063 yds, 5 TDs, and 8 INTs.

Even though the stat line is far from stellar, looking back at Mason’s tape showed some attributes that he can build upon to become a better NFL quarterback. Some people forget that his body of work could have been bigger if he did not suffer a nasty knockout against Baltimore in week 5.

It would have been very interesting if Mason never suffered a concussion to see how the Steelers season would have gone.

When I watched tape on both quarterbacks, I noticed a few things about Mason’s game that showed me that with more coaching and development, he can greatly improve.

The first thing I noticed is Mason does have decent pocket awareness. Many times he has extended the play by dancing around the pocket and was able to get the ball away.

The second thing I noticed is that Mason is not afraid to take off and scramble. There were a few times against Seattle when there was nobody open, Mason would just tuck and run for a couple of yards for a first down. He is also not afraid to but his shoulder down to gain those yards.

It reminds me of a younger Ben Roethlisberger.

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The last thing I noticed is his arm strength. Mason displayed his strong arm many times throughout the year. He has the arm talent, he just needs to work on some accuracy issues, but that comes with his youth and inexperience. With Ben hopefully staying healthy, It will give Mason a longer time to develop as the year progresses.

Do I think Mason is Ben’s successor? I am not sure.

It is hard to make that call since he is still young and developing. Plus Ben is still under contract till 2022. Depending on how things pan out, we may see the Steelers take a quarterback in the next two drafts, time will tell.

I think that we as a fanbase have been too quick to judge Mason. I am not saying he will be a superstar in the next year, but we should be thankful that we have a decent option to take over if Ben does get hurt again. He may not be the flashiest backup, but it is better than nothing.

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We just need to give Mason more time to truly see if he has what it takes to take over once Ben’s time is up.

I only hope that time does not come sooner than later.

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