Ben Roethlisberger did not react enthusiastically when the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted quarterback Mason Rudolph in the third round of the NFL Draft.
Nothing against the rookie, observed Roethlisberger earlier this month, who wondered why Pittsburgh did not opt for a player that “helps us win now.”
Roethlisberger also appeared to bristle at the idea of having to tutor Rudolph in those initial remarks, but he insisted at Tuesday’s organized team activities that his words were not intended to be serious.
“I think people took some things I said into a context that I was going to be mean or rude or whatever. That’s not it at all,” the two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “If you listen to the whole conversation, it was said in jest and laughing. I’ve never been the type to be rude or mean to other quarterbacks.
“I’ve had a lot of quarterbacks come through here that are younger than me that I’ve tried to help any way that I can. So I’ll continue to do that.”
The initial comment by Roethlisberger that raised eyebrows was that he would point Rudolph “to the playbook” if the former Oklahoma State star had questions for him.
During Tuesday’s OTAs, Roethlisberger took on a mentoring role with Rudolph, pointing out things both in meetings and on the field — specifically on a bullet pass to fullback Roosevelt Nix.
“I just pulled him aside and said, ‘Hey listen, you’ll learn quickly: Every throw doesn’t have to be the hardest throw you can make. You don’t have to put every throw like on a guy’s chests as hard as you can. That’s a great opportunity to just give him a nice easy touch pass,'” said Roethlisberger. “Just trying to instill little things like that.”
While Roethlisberger has two years left on his current contract and told the team this offseason that he planned to play three to five more seasons, the Steelers were thrilled to get Rudolph in the third round. Pittsburgh traded two draft picks to move up three spots to No. 76 to snag a player that general manager Kevin Colbert said they “valued as much as the rest of those quarterbacks that were drafted (in the first round).”
Rudolph posted a 32-9 mark as a starter with Oklahoma State and owns 54 school records, including single-season passing yards (4,553) and career passing yards (13,618), passing touchdowns (90) and pass efficiency (63.2 percent).
Roethlisberger did appear to come away with a favorable first impression of Rudolph.
“He’s got a big arm. He overthrew (wide receiver Antonio Brown) even though AB’s not going to admit it,” said Roethlisberger. “He seems to understand the offense, seems to not have any issues in the huddle, so I thought he did really well.”