Widely regarded as one of the best quarterback classes in recent memory, the 2018 class boasts five potential first-rounders. At this point, everyone playing dynasty has heard the names Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, and Lamar Jackson. In recent NFL mock drafts, they have even been projected to go with the first five picks, something that has never happened in NFL draft history. The forgotten man who I believe could slip into the end of the first round to a team looking to capitalize on the fifth year option is Mason Rudolph. The Oklahoma State product has the potential to be a draft day steal for the NFL team that drafts him and the savvy dynasty owner who waits until the top five have gone off the board.
Statistics from sports-reference.com.
In his freshman season, Rudolph took over for injured starter Daxx Garman late in the season, playing in three games and starting two. Rudolph ascended to full-time starter in 2015 and was voted team MVP in his sophomore season. Rudolph improved his production across the board in his junior and senior seasons. Most impressive to me was his completion percentage steadily rising along with increased attempts. Rudolph won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, the Sammy Baugh award, and led the FBS with 377 passing yards per game in his senior season.
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Rudolph does a lot of things well on film but one of my favorite things about him is his willingness to put enough air under the ball to allow his receivers to make plays on the ball downfield. He is patient in the pocket and lets routes develop, trusting his receivers to get open. Rudolph slides laterally in the pocket well, making it difficult for pass rushers to zero in on a stationary target and he does it while keeping his eyes downfield. That doesn’t mean he is unwilling to take off and run when he needs to, especially near the goal line. Rudolph ran for 17 touchdowns over the course of his collegiate career.
As far as negatives go, I think his footwork needs attention. Often he fails to drive the ball with his lower body, resulting in low velocity throws, especially in the short and intermediate areas of the field. This is something aggressive corners in the NFL could take advantage of resulting in devastating pick-sixes. With all his ability in the pocket, Rudolph struggles on rollouts or when a play breaks down and he is forced to throw on the run. With the right coaching, I believe these things could be corrected at the NFL level.
From a measurables standpoint, Rudolph has everything you want to see from an NFL quarterback prospect in terms of size. At nearly 6’5” and 235 pounds, he looks like a prototypical NFL quarterback. Hand size could be a concern at just 9 1/8” but Jared Goff was measured at 9” flat and has found success as a pro.
He won’t blow you away with his athleticism either as a 35th-percentile prospect in the 40-yard dash and a dismal fifth percentile in the vertical jump.
Mason Rudolph is coming off the board as the sixth quarterback and the 46th overall player in March rookie mock drafts. You could do a lot worse with your late fourth-round rookie pick.
In startup mock drafts he is the 32nd quarterback off the board and the 235th player overall making him a mid 20th round selection in one quarterback leagues.
In a strong quarterback class, Mason Rudolph is likely the sixth quarterback off the board in both the NFL draft and in dynasty rookie drafts. A left foot injury kept him out of the Senior Bowl and prevented him from showing what he could do against other top draft prospects but it didn’t keep him from participating in the combine or at his pro day. His foot is not a concern going forward.
Rudolph has all the tools to be a successful pocket passer at the pro level. He improved every season at OSU which shows a willingness to learn and get better at his craft. At this point in his development is he is more of a play-action passer who will be more successful in a timing based passing offense than he will be in one that asks him to win with arm strength and precision. His footwork needs work to improve in those areas and with the right coaching staff, he can get there. Rudolph would benefit greatly going to a team where he can sit and develop for several seasons before being thrust into a starting role but I believe he can be a high-end backup right from the get-go.
If you need a developmental quarterback on your dynasty squad I think Rudolph makes for a nice selection in the fourth round of one quarterback leagues and in the mid-late third of superflex leagues.