#76 Steelers: QB Mason Rudolph

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Overview
A four-year starter at Oklahoma State, Rudolph thrived in the Cowboys' up-tempo, spread passing attack (exclusively shotgun/pistol) that is designed to exploit single coverage and make it tough for defenses to identify personnel - plenty of pretty deep passes on his game film. He checks boxes with his size, presence and character for the NFL level, but faces a steep learning curve in his transition to the pro game.

The most important question for his pro transition: when the first read is taken away, can he efficiently go through his progressions while feeling the rush to find an open window? Rudolph wasn't asked to consistently do this in college and was often protected by conservative play-calling - it's not that he can't do what is required at the NFL level, but his tape doesn't show that he can either. Although his NFL transition requires patience, Rudolph has the physical traits and intelligence that make him a worthy developmental option.

BACKGROUND
A four-star quarterback recruit out of high school, Mason Rudolph started his prep career at tight end before transferring to Northwestern High School as a sophomore and moving to quarterback under head coach Kyle Richardson (who is now an offensive assistant at Clemson). He was highly productive and led his team to back-to-back state titles (winning his senior season), but went overlooked by many nearby schools, allowing Oklahoma State to swoop in and convince the southern native to move to the Midwest for his college career.
Rudolph was expected to redshirt in 2014, but an injury to Daxx Garman forced him into action and he responded well, winning two of his three starts, including a fourth-quarter comeback in Norman to defeat Oklahoma. As a sophomore he started the first 11 games before a foot injury hobbled him down the stretch, finishing with 62.3-percent completions (264-for-424) for 3,770 passing yards, 21 touchdown passes and nine interceptions. Rudolph had his most productive season as a junior with 63.4-percent completions (284-for-448) for 4,091 passing yards, 28 touchdowns and four interceptions, earning All-Big 12 Honorable Mention honors.

Analysis
STRENGTHS
Looks the part with a well-built, sturdy frame. Good-enough arm strength to make all the throws in the playbook. Accurate on designed routes, delivering a very catchable football between defenders. Excellent placement/touch on deep throws, giving his receivers a chance to run underneath the ball. Clean pocket mechanics and release. Improved pocket movements to avoid the rush - doesn't always execute the throw, but footwork has improved.

Stands tall in the pocket and able to shake off-balanced tackle attempts. Tough finisher as a ballcarrier, using his big body to break tackles and power his way forward in short-yardage situations. Consistent and calm demeanor on and off the field, regardless of the situation. Not an alpha personality, but well-liked within the program and goes out of his way to motivate and relate with his teammates. Durable and started all but one game since becoming the starter as a true freshman. Highly productive and leaves Oklahoma State with almost every passing record. - Dane Brugler 11/28/2017

WEAKNESSES
Groomed in a simplified offensive system. Locks onto his first or preferred read, leading to forced throws - by the time he gets to his secondary reads, those windows are often closed. Stares down receivers with a late trigger, leading to contested throws. Accuracy can't be described as pinpoint, often forcing his receivers to jump or spear away from their body.

Adequate arm strength for the NFL, but the ball doesn't explode out of his hand - better follow-through with his hips would help add velocity to throws. Internal clock requires maintenance, holding the ball too long in the pocket. Inconsistent when attempting to reset his feet in the pocket and doesn't create many second-chance throws. Benefited from a strong run game and numerous weapons at receiver. - Dane Brugler 11/28/17

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