Mason Rudolph joined the ranks of Rock Hill, S.C. NFL players Friday night, going to the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 76th pick in the third round.
Rudolph was the sixth QB selected in the 2018 draft. Four QBs were selected in the first 10 picks for the first time since 1960, and five were taken in the first round.
The Steelers traded the 79th and 220th picks to Seattle for the 76th pick, which they used to snag Rudolph.
"Mason, at that spot, was just too good for us to pass up," Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said on Saturday afternoon.
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Draft analysts had Rudolph going anywhere from the first round to the third, but the former Northwestern Trojan clearly thought he should have gone earlier than he did. ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported that Rudolph said his perceived slide in the draft "will stick with me every minute, every hour until the day I die.”
Rudolph met several times with Pittsburgh Steelers scouts and coaches in the lead-up to the draft. The Steelers still have long-time QB Ben Roethlisberger firmly entrenched as the starter, but Rudolph gives Mike Tomlin’s team a young understudy to develop for the future. The Steelers picked Rudolph's teammate and favorite passing target at Oklahoma State, James Washington, in the second round.
"To go on to the next chapter, the next level with one of your brothers, with your best receiver that you've spent your whole college days with and you could potentially spend another 15 years with, it's going to be one heck of a ride," Rudolph told media after his selection. "And I can't wait to get it going."
Rudolph's star first streaked across Friday night skies as a quarterback leading the Northwestern Trojans for three hugely successful seasons.
He played tight end as a freshman at Westminster Catawba Christian School, but Trojans coach Kyle Richardson moved him to QB when he transferred there for his sophomore year. Rudolph guided Northwestern to a state championship appearance in 2012 as a junior, before the Trojans went undefeated his senior season, blasting Stratford in the state championship game. Rudolph chucked eight touchdown passes in that game. He also played in the 2013 Shrine Bowl, leading the South Carolina squad to a win by orchestrating a late touchdown drive.
Rudolph had similar success at Oklahoma State, without the championships, leading the Cowboys to 10-win seasons three years in a row for the first time in school history. He rewrote the school's record books -- over 13,000 passing yards, 92 touchdowns and just 26 interceptions -- and won a slew of awards his senior season, including the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.
Besides Roethlisberger and Rudolph, Pittsburgh has two other quarterbacks, former Tennessee QB Josh Dobbs and 29-year old Landry Jones. Roethlisberger is 36 years old, a 14-year veteran, but has said he'd like to play a couple more years.