In case you missed it Saturday morning, the New York Jets made a trade with the Indianapolis Colts and it included the No. 3 overall selection in this year’s draft being dealt to the former. With that deal now consummated, the growing belief is that we’ll see three quarterbacks in a row selected with the first three picks in this year’s draft. Assuming that happens, and assuming a fourth quarterback, presumably either Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield, is ultimately selected between picks No. 4 and No. 27, the Pittsburgh Steelers might be faced with the opportunity at 28th overall to select quarterback Mason Rudolph, the Oklahoma State product who they appear to be very interested in learning more about so far this offseason.
In case you missed the news on Thursday, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert, head coach Mike Tomlin and offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner were all present for the Oklahoma State pro day and the three made sure to have a nice little powwow with the 6-5, 235-pound quarterback as soon as his Thursday workout had ended. When Rudolph met the media a little later on Thursday to talk about his pro day performance, he was asked about how his conversation with Tomlin went.
“We just talked about the process and obviously, we [Oklahoma State] played a game up there at their place this year and got to experience their stadium,” Rudolph said. “But Just saying goodbye and looking forward to speaking with all the teams here leading up to the draft.”
That game this past season at Heinz Field was obviously against Pittsburgh and included Rudolph completing 23 of his 32 total pass attempts for 497 yards and 5 touchdowns in addition to one interception. Oklahoma State won that game 59-21. You can watch cutups of Rudolph from that game below.
“I told them how much I loved playing on that unbelievable field. It was a cool experience,” Rudolph reportedly said. “That was one of my better games. (Colbert and Tomlin) didn’t say whether they were there, and I didn’t ask if they were, but it’s their field, so I’m sure they had someone there.”
According to our very own Alex Kozora a few weeks ago, he learned at this year’s Senior Bowl that the Steelers like Rudolph and as Aditi Kinkhabwala of the NFL Network reported on Thursday, Pittsburgh met with the quarterback individually at the scouting combine as well. Speaking of the combine, Rudolph mentioned Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during his session with the media while in Indianapolis when asked which quarterbacks he watched and tried to model himself after while growing up.
“I’ve always had a lot of respect for Peyton Manning,” Rudolph started. “Obviously, he’s not playing currently anymore, but being able to meet him at his camp three years in a row and spend some time with him and Eli and Archie was a priceless experience. I’ve always said Peyton and Ben (Roethlisberger), Big Ben, watching the way that he stands in the pocket and delivers the ball, continues to just evade the rush time and time again. And so I would say those two guys.”
Also at this year’s combine, Colbert made sure to point out the fact that he is intrigued by this year’s quarterback class and went as far as to not rule out the possibility of the Steelers selecting another one in late April even though the team drafted quarterback Joshua Dobbs last year in the fourth-round.
“Now, you have to sort through that group [of quarterbacks] and really make sure that we can predict their ability to succeed in the NFL because the majority of them are coming from a spread concept and that lends challenges to us to be able to identify NFL traits within those concepts so that we can maybe make good decisions if we decide to pick a quarterback,” Colbert said at the combine.”
Roethlisberger is currently under contract with the Steelers through the 2019 season and according to what he said almost immediately after the team’s playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, he appears willing to play at least three more seasons. It doesn’t appear as though the Steelers will extend Roethlisberger’s contract this offseason but they could do so roughly a year from now if that’s the path they want to take.
If the Steelers are indeed as interested in Rudolph as their pre-draft optics make it appear, they would obviously probably need to draft him 28th overall and thus forgo addressing their more immediate needs at both safety and inside linebacker. Would Colbert really draft a quarterback in the first round that might ultimately have to sit and wait his turn behind Roethlisberger for potentially three or more years before he gets to play? To hear Colbert talk during the combine, he insinuated he’s not above doing such.
“So, depth at any position is important and again, it doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t take a player just because we have great players, because you can never have enough good players at any position,” Colbert said.
Rudolph admitted on Thursday that he already has a few private workouts lined up with a few NFL teams in addition to a couple of pre-draft visits already scheduled. He also refused to reveal which teams he already has booked on his calendar. For now, we’ll have to wait and see if Rudolph is ultimately brought to Pittsburgh for a pre-draft visit in April and if news of a private workout with the Steelers ultimately surfaces. In the meantime, I suggest you watch Rudolph’s Thursday pro day media session in addition to his combine media session that I linked to in the post.