Editor’s Note: To help you dominate your rookie drafts, this series will feature a look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of over 40 dynasty rookie draft prospects and run all through the month of May and even into June. We’ll cover all the premier prospects but also give you critical information on some of the lesser known talents. All of these rookie updates will be loaded into our ever-evolving 2018 Rookie Draft Guide – the ultimate resource for dynasty enthusiasts all over the world.
Name: Mason Rudolph
Born: July 17, 1995
Pro Team: Pittsburgh Steelers
College Team: Oklahoma State
Draft Status: Round 3, 76th overall
- Height: 6’ 5”
- Weight: 235 lbs
- Hand Size: 9 ⅛”
- 40 Time: 4.90
- Bench Press: N/A
- Vertical Jump: 26”
- Broad Jump: 107” (pro day)
- Short Shuttle: 4.56 (pro day)
- Three Cone Drill: N/A
- One of the most productive passers in the FBS over the last two years
- Prototypical size
- Navigates the pocket with maturity beyond his years
- Always keeps his eyes downfield
- Great touch and accuracy on deep balls
- Not afraid to work over the middle
- Stands tall, even under pressure
- Reads the field well
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- Arm strength is merely adequate
- Is an upper body thrower
- Not the kind of player who can fit passes into tight windows
- Nobody will confuse him with Lamar Jackson outside the pocket
- Tendency to lock on to a target, ignoring progressions
- Played almost exclusively out of the shotgun
- May have been elevated by James Washington
Ben Roethlisberger is as entrenched as any starter in the league, but he also has a long history of missing games due to injury. How long of a history did nobody ask because we all know the answer? I’ll tell you! He hasn’t played a full season since 2015, has missed at least one game in 11 of 14 seasons, and has missed two or more in six. More than with any other starter of Ben’s caliber league-wide, there exists opportunity for his backup.
Generally speaking, teams other than the Jets don’t pop on a quarterback on the second day of the draft to stick them on the practice squad. I’d say odds are good Rudolph will either open the season as the backup, or at least force the Steelers to carry three quarterbacks on Sundays.
In the battle to beat out incumbent Landry Jones, I expect the Steelers to give Rudolph a fair shake, as Jones has been pedestrian in his five NFL starts, posting six scores and five interceptions playing with some of the best weapons in the league. He is also in the last year of his contract, meaning that unless the Steelers hate what they see out of Rudolph in the preseason and at practice, he’s likely going to be the main backup in 2019.
An even better scenario would see the Steelers cut bait on Jones sometime before Week 1. Sending him to the unemployment line would only cost Pittsburgh $300,000 in dead cap money and would represent a significant $1.9 million savings both in real world dollars and cap space. If Rudolph shows well during the preseason, this could easily be a scenario we see play out.
Unless Ben goes down and Jones either gets cut or loses the backup job, I can’t see Rudolph making a big impact next year. If he does happen to get meaningful playing time, I’d be more on the tempered enthusiasm side of things, as he is a rookie quarterback and all.
With day-two quarterbacks, it’s always difficult to tell what the outcome will be. The fact so many teams passed on him multiple times should give us reason for pause. When you consider that list includes a Tom Brady replacement needy Patriots, who were said to be interested after having Rudolph in for a pre-draft visit, raises my eyebrow even further. All this is part of a larger conversation on draft capital, but high-end starting quarterback prospects aren’t on the board 76 picks in. Sometimes guys taken this late transcend, but far more often, you never hear from them again.
From where I sit in my penthouse office here at DLF’s posh mahogany laden Las Vegas headquarters, where we have many fine leather-bound books, Rudolph is bound to spend the first three or four years of his career as a guy many think should be starting, but instead is stuck behind a likely Hall-of-Famer. From there, some team, maybe the Steelers themselves, will give him a bit too much money to take a shot at starting and will find themselves a low-upside, uninspiring quarterback who struggles be anything more than just-a-guy. Maybe he puts it all together a half-a-dozen years in, a’la Case Keenum, but more it’s more likely he spends his NFL career holding a clipboard on Sundays.
NFL PLAYER COMPARISON
This isn’t a comp I came up with, but Rudolph reminds of a shorter, hopefully better, Brock Osweiler. Brock has a better arm, but was/is more susceptible to making bad decisions that lead to turnovers.
ROOKIE DRAFT ADVICE
In one-quarterback leagues without super deep rosters, Rudolph shouldn’t be owned. Our conversation here starts with superflex and two-quarterback leagues. In such formats, I’d begin to consider Rudolph at the turn between the second and third rounds. If the likes of Tre’Quan Smith, Kalen Ballage and Antonio Callaway are still on the board, I’d go there first. Even then, I’m unlikely to own Rudolph in any of my leagues. Waiting three or four years to see if a third-round quarterback is going to have value is the definition of a wasted roster spot.
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