Mason Rudolph has been one of the top quarterbacks in college football over the past three years and yet somehow it seems he often gets left in the shadows when conversations about the draft come up. Some experts don’t even have him in the top five passers in this year’s class.
During his sophomore season in 2015, Rudolph overcame the deficiency of a Cowboys running game that posed almost no threat to opposing defenses and consequently offered little help to the passing game, and the thirty sacks that were given up by his offensive line, to still fund a way to lead his teams to ten wins and a bowl game.
Since then he has done nothing but improve. As a senior this past season, he threw for 4,904 yards, 37 touchdowns, and a 170.6 quarterback rating. That in itself is exceptional, but no one is even mentioning the fact that this 6-foot-5, 229 pound, quarterback, who is known almost exclusively for sitting back in the pocket and launching bombs to his receivers, also ran for 10 touchdowns.
In spite of all of his success and the video game type numbers he puts up, Rudolph has somehow managed to become the black sheep of this quarterback draft class even though he has better stats than anyone else in the group besides Baker Mayfield. Critics have found almost every excuse possible to drop the best quarterback in Oklahoma St. history out of the first round.
Ironically, the biggest knocks on this kid are arm strength and accuracy but just turn on some tape of Rudolph’s and you will see him consistently and almost effortlessly ripping darts forty-five to fifty yards down the field and hitting his receivers right in the hands and in stride. I’ve also heard experts say that he benefits greatly from receivers streaking wide open down the field and I’m not going to lie, he has excellent weapons. However, there is also plenty of tape of closely contested plays where he has to thread the needle because of double coverage and if you pay attention you will see that most of the time the ball is placed in a spot where only the receiver can catch it, and once he does, he is in a position to get yards after the catch.
I’m sure this kid has cracks somewhere in his armor but they are definitely difficult to see at first glance. He is extremely passionate on the field and shows a lot of excitement when he leading his team in battle. He’s well spoken and comes across as being intelligent and quietly determined. He’s involved in the community both as a mentor and as someone looking for guidance. He loves to study film and has encouraged a group of others to do so as well.
Another area where critics have picked on Rudolph is his mobility. He is a big bodied passer and at first glance he doesn’t look like the type who will be elusive or scramble to keep a drive alive, and definitely not to cap it off with a touchdown. Looks can be deceiving though. Rudolph is deceptively quick and fast and has proven he can bounce off of and spin away from defenders then get lose to fire a laser pass or run for a gain or a score. Where most of his success on the ground comes though, is his football knowledge and his ability to read defenses. He sees the field well and is able to outsmart opponents and use his vision to set himself up for a decent run.
I don’t believe there is a passer going into this year’s draft who offers a more complete package than this kid. Depending on which team he lands on, there could be a learning curve since he is coming from such a prolific offense with multiple stars, but I believe that no matter where you put him, Mason Rudolph is bound to be a star in the NFL.