Scouting Profile: Quarterback Mason Rudolph
Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
Weight: 235 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.90 seconds
Hand Size: 9.1 inches
The last of the big-six quarterbacks in the draft, Rudolph is expected to be taken in the top two rounds of the NFL Draft, and potentially at the end of the first-round. Some say that he’d be in the conversation for a top-five pick if it wasn’t such a strong QB class in this year’s draft. He’s got the ideal build, has plenty of experience, and improved throughout his time in college.
Since taking over as the full-time starter for Oklahoma State, Rudolph increased his numbers in each of these statistical categories over the last three years: Completion percentage, yards, yards per attempt, touchdowns, and quarterback rating. That’s exactly what you hope to see out of a college quarterback, though was it a product of those around him and the offense he played in? Whatever the case, he threw for 4,904 yards in 2017, which was easily the most in all of college football.
Arm Strength/Throwing Motion: 3.0 out of 5 stars
Arm strength is the thing that everyone wants to watch at the Combine, but you can argue that throwing mechanics are even more important. Rudolph’s arm isn’t anything spectacular and may be slightly below average, but he does look natural throughout his movements. His throwing motion and consistency in his approach is likely the best in class, even if he would benefit from a little more mustard on his passes. Not only his throwing motion, either, as he looks comfortable throughout his drops as well, something that not all college quarterbacks are used to. His mechanics and consistency give him a slightly above-average grade in this category.
Accuracy: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Oddly enough, he doesn’t throw a pretty ball. It’s not the tight spiral that you’d like, though Peyton Manning didn’t throw a tight spiral, either, so it can’t matter that much, right? His completion percentage certainly didn’t show any issue for his receivers, though some would say that his receivers bailed him out more often than not. In fact, he had maybe the best ball-tracker in the class fetching the deep ball in James Washington, and then the massive Marcell Ateman on the other side of the field. Still, Rudolph gets great air under the ball to let his receiver coast under it, something not all quarterbacks can do. His accuracy on intermediate throws is solid, though the deep ball is where he shines. There are times where he’ll throw some ducks if he’s not able to set his feet, but it doesn’t happen all that often.
Mobility: 1.5 out of 5 stars
My notes on mobility while watching Rudolph were simply, “Nah…” He’s pretty much the definition of a pocket passer who doesn’t offer much escapability and won’t be running for more than a couple yards at a time. There were times where they had him in the shotgun and had him run a draw, but it wasn’t very successful. He can be outrun by edge defenders and linebackers, so don’t expect him to do much on the ground. He’ll try to roll-out at times, but he was caught from behind during some of them. The reason he doesn’t hit the minimum score is because he’s somewhat difficult to tackle at 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds.
Pocket Awareness: 2.0 out of 5 stars
This was a frustrating part of Rudolph’s tape, as he is extremely slow to react to defenders in the vicinity. He simply doesn’t sense pressure like he should. There’s a fine-line where you need to remain calm while under pressure, but he doesn’t walk that line and often waits too long. Because of that, he’s going to take some big hits. Fortunately, he’s a big man who can absorb out of them, but if he doesn’t get a better sense of where everyone is on the field, he’s going to get hurt. Some of those hits also led to throws that would have the ball just heaved up in the air and essentially up for grabs. I’d argue that this is better than him seeing ghosts in the pocket like Blaine Gabbert did when he entered the league, but it’s another reason why he should be a backup for a year or two to improve his pocket awareness.
Vision/Decision-Making: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Rudolph’s vision is another plus to his game, as he won’t take many chances into tight coverage, though if one of his big wide receivers is one-on-one, he’ll throw it up to them. He’ll go through multiple progressions if his offensive line allows him time to do so. Heck, with his lack of sensing pressure, he’ll do it even if they don’t. He’s got better vision than he does anticipation, that’s for sure. He doesn’t rush throws for no reason, as he wants to make sure he finds the best target available. He also keeps his eyes down the field at all times, which is a coveted trait. The one concern that I noticed was in the redzone, where he’d stare down his receiver a bit too much at times, which will only get tougher at the next level. It’s likely because Rudolph uses the whole field to his advantage, so when it shrinks, it hurts his overall game. He can use some refining in certain areas, but his vision/decision-making should be considered a strength of his game.
Anticipation: 2.0 out of 5 stars
Not really a timing- or precision-based quarterback, wants to see where the defender is when he throws it. Because of that, he doesn’t want to throw the ball before the receiver breaks on his route. It’s also why he goes through multiple progressions so well, as he doesn’t like to be locked into one route. When I did see him try to make throws at the time of break, he wasn’t hitting the receiver in stride. When you aren’t a timing quarterback or one with an incredible arm, you’ll find yourself in this territory a lot, but he needs to work on this part of his game, as NFL cornerbacks and safeties will set traps for him to throw into.
Potential Landing Spot
Some believe he’ll last into the second-round, but it’s hard to see both the Steelers and Patriots passing on him at the end of the first-round, as they both have veteran quarterbacks who are nearing retirement with no viable option backing them up. If I had to pick one, it’d probably be the Steelers, as they likely learned their lesson in last year’s drafting when they thought they could wait and select Josh Dobbs to be Ben Roethlisberger‘s eventual replacement, but we all know how that ended. Either one of those landing spots would be ideal for Rudolph, who could benefit from some time as a backup.
While some have compared Rudolph to Ben Roethlisberger and while that’s not a bad one, I think the best comparison is Kirk Cousins. He doesn’t have the strongest arm in the league, but he’s one of the better deep passers in football. They both get great arcs on the deep ball and are willing to give their wide receivers a jump-ball if they’re in one-on-one situations. Cousins is more mobile than Rudolph, but strictly as a passer, that’s the best comparison that I can give. Rudolph may have benefited from the talent around him at Oklahoma State, but only time will tell. What we do know is that he’s immune to the pressure around him and throws one of the prettiest deep balls in the draft class.
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