Dunlap: Can't Find A Negative In Mason Rudolph Pick

What's there not to like about selection of QB?

Colin Dunlap
April 30, 2018 - 1:25 pm

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

I can't find the negative. I don't know, maybe I've surprisingly turned into some glass-half-full kinda guy in my old age. But, I just can't find the downside to the Pittsburgh Steelers selecting Mason Rudolph --- projected to be a starting quarterback in the National Football League --- in the third round of the recent draft. Seems to me it is a risk well worth taking. 

Here is why: First and foremost, neither Landry Jones or Joshua Dobbs will ever start a considerable number of games in the NFL. Furthermore, if they would have to, your franchise is in the deepest of troubles. Both men, as wonderful as they are as citizens, are simply not talented enough to lead an NFL offense over an extended period of time. I don't know right now if Rudolph is or isn't, but I will take my chances he is an upgrade over both of them and, dare I say it, the quarterback the Steelers have in mind to take command of the offense when Ben Roethlisberger retires. That very last part seems to be a big portion of the crux of the argument for the people who are very much against the selection of Rudolph. They yammer and yell, flap and jabber about how Roethlisberger still has years left and there was simply no need to take a quarterback at this juncture. 

OK, maybe he does have years left --- or at least says he does. After all, can we believe what Ben says, as his opinion generally changes with how the wind (or Todd Haley's employment status) blows. But, more than that, what if Roethlisberger gets injured, which the older he gets could become a very real possibility? Don't the Steelers owe it to themselves to attempt to insulate the franchise from a Big Ben injury as much as possible? The thought here is that they do. And just like the other 21 positions and special teams, if you can bolster your depth and talent at quarterback, you should. Again --- Rudolph is better than both Jones and certainly Dobbs. Thus, he is worth taking. 

Now let's play the "what if Ben doesn't get hurt and plays three more seasons" card. OK, fine. What if he does? Sticking with the plan and having Rudolph as backup, he gains valuable experience learning from one of the best of his time to play the position. Rudolph also would seemingly see some spot duty here and there and also assimilate into this team right now at a key time --- when the offense is changing over from Haley to Randy Fichtner leading it. Then the day Roethlisberger calls that press conference and decides to call it quits, the controls get handed over to Rudolph. If that is how it goes, I can't think of a whole lot of bad things about a 25 year old quarterback with limited NFL mileage on his tires and a decent pedigree leading the offense. 

There has also been considerable racket from the talking heads who are insistent Rudolph was drafted while the Steelers ignored their defensive needs, particularly someone to fill the gap in place of the injured Ryan Shazier. I got some news for you. After the first two inside linebackers were off the board, the dropoff was significant. That said, it is my thought the Steelers might shift into a bit of a 3-3-5 model defense with one of five men (Jon Bostic, Morgan Burnett, Sean Davis, Terrell Edmunds or Marcus Allen) sliding into a hybrid inside linebacker position and attempting their best to play the part of Shazier. Certainly the run-stopping aspect could suffer, but I wouldn't be shocked if the Steelers are just looking to get as many athletes on the field at the same time and, to that end, find one who has the firmest grasp of the defense to call the signals in Shazier's place. So, again, I understand where people are coming from when they talk about not drafting an inside linebacker, but I think the Steelers have designs on creating one from their current talent crop. 

Believe me, I've gone through this. I've looked at it a bunch of different ways. I always get castigated for and accused of being some negative guy. In truth, I'm not. Not in the least. And you know what, I can't find anything negative about the Steelers picking Mason Rudolph in the third round. In fact, I think this has the makings of being something that very much could work.