Once Ben Roethlisberger started seriously considering retirement, the Pittsburgh Steelers knew they couldn’t wait too long to get his replacement.
And on Friday night, the Steelers made their biggest draft investment in the quarterback position since taking Roethlisberger. In the third round, with the 76th overall pick, the Steelers took Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph. He was the sixth quarterback selected in the draft, and many experts thought Rudolph would go well before the third round.
This wasn’t just a case of a team having Rudolph fall in its lap and it couldn’t ignore value. The Steelers traded up to No. 76 to get Rudolph. It wasn’t a huge trade up — the Steelers sent a seventh-round pick to Seattle to go up three spots — but the maneuvering tells you there was some urgency in getting a young quarterback.
The Steelers have used recent fourth-round picks on quarterbacks. They took Landry Jones in 2013. Last year, they took Joshua Dobbs. But Jones hasn’t shown much, and the Steelers apparently aren’t convinced Dobbs can be the next franchise quarterback either. In steps Rudolph. It’s the first time the Steelers have drafted a quarterback in the first three rounds since using a first-round pick on Roethlisberger in 2004.
Rudolph was a three-year starter for Oklahoma State, and in his college career he had 13,618 yards and 92 touchdowns. He’s big, at 6-foot-5, 235 pounds, and comes in with good college experience and production.
Roethlisberger said last year that he seriously considered retirement, but came back. There was no such drama this offseason, as Roethlisberger made it clear he’d be back in 2018. But he’s 36 and has taken a lot of punishment. And once a player starts seriously considering retirement, it usually isn’t too long until he walks away.
The Steelers didn’t want to be stuck without options. Although the fourth-round picks they’ve used on quarterbacks look like a bit of a waste now, they hope Rudolph turns out better. If it works out as we can predict at the moment, Rudolph could be replacing a Pittsburgh legend fairly soon.
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