Talks of the upcoming NFL Draft are sure to ramp up with the start of the NFL Draft Combine this week and with many NFL experts and writers making and remaking their mock drafts, there’s one name I want you to look out for: Mason Rudolph.
Rudolph is definitely lacking in the amount of buzz other players and fellow QBs are receiving, but that shouldn’t stop you from keeping his name in the conversation of talent that could see their names called within the first two rounds, maybe even the first round.
First, Rudolph has the size of a prototypical NFL quarterback: standing 6’5″ and weighing 230 pounds, he is larger than everybody except Josh Allen, who weighs 10 pounds heavier and is the same size as MVP candidate, Carson Wentz. His size will be a key asset of his and for any team that drafts him, especially in the AFC North. Home to above-average run schemes, physical defenses and large quarterbacks, Rudolph, based on his size alone, would be able to hold his own with other signal callers in the division.
In regards to his size, Rudolph possesses above-average arm strength, but has shown a lack of accuracy at times throughout the season. Accuracy is something that can be worked on over time and other quarterbacks in the draft have all shown that accuracy can be a problem for them at times. Don’t put too much weight into this assessment and instead focus on what Rudolph can do well. In the deep passing game, about 25-30+ yards downfield, he tends to be more accurate than he is on intermediate throws, meaning he can vertically stretch the field when needed and will work well with coordinators that like to throw deep.
Staying in college for four years at Oklahoma State, Rudolph is the collegiate version of a veteran and this distinction should come with some praise as players often leave school early while still having so much more to improve on as they move to the professional ranks. Rudolph has been consistent and has improved as he moves closer to April’s draft.
“Rudolph is the model of consistency in the Oklahoma State system…and he has played a ton of football — 38 starts for the Cowboys. He has improved in every season. I see enough pop in his arm to challenge over the top or outside of the numbers.” – Matt Bowen, ESPN
Rudolph is not of the mobile variety when it comes to quarterbacks, but he has shown he is mobile enough to elude pass rushers and extend plays, even by using his legs (10 rushing TDs in 2017). Another Ben Roethlisberger, maybe? Now, I’m not comparing Rudolph to Roethlisberger but, in terms of size and being hard to bring down, they hold some weight.
“(Rudolph) was able show the ability to avoid pressure by stepping up in the pocket and taking only 22 sacks all year,” said George Stockburger of Fansided when speaking on Rudolph’s pocket mobility.
Now, of course, not everything is going to look pretty when you watch Rudolph, but no quarterback is a clear-cut favorite this year. At least three different quarterbacks have been predicted in the number one spot since the end of the regular season and there is still a month and a half to go before the draft.
Given Rudolph’s assets (size, mobility and deep accuracy), he can be favorably compared to higher-ranked QBs in his draft class even with his negatives and because there is no true number one option other than on paper and in so-called expert’s mock drafts, don’t be fooled by the lack of buzz around the QB that had a better season and overall record last year (10-3) than everybody not named Baker Mayfield (12-2, Big 12 Champion) and Sam Darnold (11-3, Pac-12 Champion).