After five quarterbacks were drafted in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Mason Rudolph had to wait until a quarter of the way through the third round to hear his name called by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The gap between the top five QBs taken — Baker Mayfield (No. 1), Sam Darnold (No. 3), Josh Allen (No. 7), Josh Rosen (No. 10), Lamar Jackson (No. 32) — and Rudolph being snagged at No. 79 — would suggest a talent discrepancy.
According to Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert, however, Rudolph compared favorably to those first-round QBs.
“He was with the group of the top quarterbacks,” Colbert said this weekend, via PennLive.com. “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.”
Five quarterbacks were selected in Round 1 for the first time since 1999. The 2018 draft also marked the first time in the common era in which four QBs went in the top 10.
“We haven’t had that much depth at the top of the draft at [quarterback] in a long time,” Colbert said. “Mason was certainly a part of that group in our opinion.”
In three seasons as Oklahoma State’s starter, Rudolph compiled a bevy of school records, including career passing yards (13,618), single-season passing yards (4,904) and career passing TDs (92). Rudolph is an excellent deep-ball thrower but has questions about his mobility, mechanics and whether he can succeed outside of OK State’s system.
Unlike most of the rookie quarterbacks taken in the first round, Rudolph will sit behind a proven veteran his first season, which could help smooth out some of his mechanical flaws.
Rudolph will join the Steelers as the new “heir apparent” to Ben Roethlisberger. With the 36-year-old Big Ben nearing the end of his career, Pittsburgh hasn’t been shy about stocking up the QB room. Rudolph joins 2013 fourth-round pick Landry Jones and 2017 fourth-rounder Josh Dobbs behind Roethlisberger.
Jones has proven he’s nothing more than a clipboard holder and Dobbs was given two preseason games before the Steelers snapped up Rudolph. If the Steelers‘ evaluation of Rudolph comes close to being true, Pittsburgh certainly upgraded its backup position and might have found its successor to Big Ben.