Mason rudolph is pittsburgh steelers’ great jimmy garoppolo experiment – nfl nation- espn b games basketball


Tom Brady was 36 years old when the New England Patriots selected Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round of the 2014 draft. Four years later, Ben Roethlisberger is 36 and will have a player the Steelers considered a first-round talent inside his quarterback room.

Brady played long enough to force Garoppolo to San Francisco in a trade that affected the Patriots’ future plans. The Steelers would love to be faced with such a problem. They’d gladly sign up for Roethlisberger playing another four years, and Roethlisberger himself told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he’s eyeing another three to five seasons, barring injury.

To be sure, Rudolph one day flashing a Hollywood smile at a media conference announcing a $137.5 million contract, like Garoppolo, is hardly a guarantee. He’s a third-round pick that at least one NFL draft evaluation compares to Christian Ponder.

This feels weightier than last year’s fourth-round selection of Josh Dobbs, who is talented but considered raw. The Steelers have begun drawing the walls and doors of a succession blueprint. They believe Rudolph’s ability to anticipate throws is next-level good.

Exactly what to expect from Rudolph is tough to decipher because of the draft’s quarterback dynamic. Many around the league considered Rudolph the sixth-best quarterback behind Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen and Lamar Jackson. The Steelers disagreed, with general manager Kevin Colbert revealing Rudolph ranked as high on his board as the others.

Rudolph is the son of an asset manager for a real estate investment firm, a private-school-educated child until the sixth grade. He attended a Christian private school before joining Northwestern High School and football powerhouse Rock Hill (South Carolina) to see how he stacked up, converting from receiver to quarterback after coaches saw the natural arm talent and mental makeup for the position.

Rudolph’s brother, Logan, plays outside linebacker at Clemson. His father played linebacker at North Carolina. He learned football toughness from his family, which believes three different school environments helped Rudolph become well-rounded.

Between Cowboys practices and film sessions, Rudolph would corral a few young assistant coaches and run through every call sheet, review signals, where plays came from — "football gymnastics," as offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich calls it.

That stigma irks Yurcich, who got a four-year close-up at a quarterback with the best "sniper’s mentality" he has ever seen — the ability to wait for plays to develop, eyes downfield, while a pass rusher closes in. Rudolph slides in the pocket at a "masterful" level, Yurcich said, has flawless weight transfer on deep balls and punishes intermediate zones. He concedes Rudolph’s ability to throw on the run is "average," but adds Rudolph can improve in that area because he’s not a bad athlete (4.9 40 time at the combine).

The way he sees it, a Big 12 offense should be the least of the NFL’s concern when top-10 picks the past two years (Baker Mayfield, Patrick Mahomes) quarterbacked in the Big 12 and Andy Reid, a West Coast offense disciple, giddily schemes up Big 12-style concepts each Sunday.

Drafting a quarterback in the third round allows the Steelers to invest in the future without mortgaging the present. The pick isn’t high enough to put the starter on some sort of notice unnecessarily, and the backup quarterback dynamic just got more interesting. Landry Jones is in the final year of his contract, and Dobbs has barely played. He’ll want a chance.

"I know you can’t keep four, but any coach is going to say ‘give me as much talent as you possibly can,’" said Fichtner, a former quarterbacks coach promoted in January after the team did not renew Todd Haley’s contract. "I am going to be excited as hell about this. I keep my fingers crossed that [Roethlisberger] will play as long as, Lord willing, he’s healthy and that he wants to play. That’d be awesome and that’d be great for us. If it takes three guys in competition to replace him some day, then so be it, and what a better position to be in right now and to keep developing quarterbacks."

"It’s not Ben [Roethlisberger’s] job to teach me anything. It’s my job to learn and that is the way I am going to look at it," Rudolph said. "Obviously, you’re sitting behind an unbelievable player and a good dude, so we’ll just kind of take it day by day and try to learn what I can each and every day."