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Scouting The 2018 NFL Draft - Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

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Today we dive into one of my favorite QB prospects, Mason Rudolph.

NCAA Football: Camping World Bowl-Oklahoma State vs Virginia Tech Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Personal/Physical

Hometown: Rock Hill, South Carolina

Class: Senior

Height: 6’5”

Weight: 230 lbs

Career Stats

2014: 853 Pass Yards, 6 TD, 4 INT, 0 Rush TD, 57% Comp %

2015: 3770 Pass Yards, 21 TD, 9 INT, 1 Rush TD, 62.3% Comp %

2016: 4091 Pass Yards, 28 TD, 4 INT, 6 Rush TD, 63.4% Comp %

2017: 4904 Pass Yards, 37 TD, 9 INT, 10 Rush TD, 65% Comp %

Positives

  • Prototypical size
  • Described as a gym rat
  • Can be deadly accurate on deep and intermediate throws
  • Able to go through progressions
  • Handles pressure well
  • More athletic than you may think
  • Great production curve in year to year stats
  • 4 year starter
  • Sported a 95.5 passer rating when under pressure
  • Good pocket presence
  • Above AVG decision making
  • Has great game awareness
  • Has the most experience out of the top 5 QB’s

Negatives

  • Needs to go through progressions faster at the next level
  • Will need to transition to an NFL style offense
  • Will sometimes miss high when his feet and throwing motion aren’t in rhythm
  • Only AVG arm strength
  • Sometimes doesn’t feel the pressure coming from behind him
  • Has the Big 12 stigma hanging over his head
  • Had a very simple playbook
  • Doesn’t have the armstength to push balls downfield, which leads to under throws when he doesn’t step into it

Film Review

In this first clip, Rudolph does a great job of standing tall in the pocket and going through his progressions. He feels the pressure to his left, and avoids it effortlessly. He then stays cool and finds the open man downfield for the first down.

In this next clip, I want to address a concern a lot of people have with Rudolph. They say his arm isn’t strong enough. Here is Rudolph barely stepping into a throw, and chucking it downfield about 46 yards. He is throwing it to one of the best deep threats coming out this year, and he hits him pretty much in stride. If he can hit a fast receiver in stride in college, he can hit a fast guy in stride in the NFL. This ball seems like it’s on a string leading right to Washington’s hands. He does this on a consistent basis.

Here is another example of Rudolph standing strong in the pocket with pressure in his face. He stiff arms the defender and rolls out to his right this time. Again he effortlessly throws an accurate strike to the endzone. By the way, this is a pretty tight window. When thinking about a QB prospect that can escape and make the most of nothing, most don’t think of Rudolph. They should.

One of the biggest weapons a QB has in his arsenal is being able to manipulate a defense. This can be done in a number of ways including with their eyes or in this case with a shoulder shutter. The sign of a pro ready QB is knowing when he needs to use this tool. In this clip, Rudolph’s back is slipping out of the backfield. At the same time, the MIKE LBer drops into a middle zone. Rudolph sees him drop and uses a shoulder shutter to manipulate the MIKE to shift to his left instead of to his right where is back is going.

Other GGN Views

  • GangGreenInYonkers - “On Rudolph, I don’t think he has enough proven tools outside of his deep ball to rank with the first round buzz QBs. I’d put him 6th behind Allen and ahead of Falk. I think I’d feel solid picking him round 3.”
  • Smackdad - “I really hated him in 2016. Reviewing his 2017 tape I was surprised that he grew on me a little. I think he has progressed nicely in his 3+ years starting, with noticeable improvement each year. I think he throws the best deep ball in this draft class. I think he maneuvers really well in the pocket for a college guy. Doesn’t succumb to the typical retreat, retreat, try to curl around the edge stuff most college QBs do. Steps up, maneuvers adroitly, keeps his eyes downfield. Rudolph also shows good accuracy on most throws. Took care of the ball well with very few INTs. Put that stuff together and I think it’s a decent base to build on. The rest is either not so good or a big question mark. His arm strength is adequate at best; you often see him throwing humpbacked tosses on simple out patterns. That won’t work in the NFL. He also had 2 NFL receivers that gave him mismatches most weeks. Washington will go in the first 2 rounds most likely, Ateman a bit later (although PFF has them both going in Rd 1, which I find to be a very unlikely scenario). No Big 12 secondary had talent to match up with those guys, and it showed in how Rudolph could often just throw it up to a covered receiver and expect the receiver to become uncovered or win a 50/50 battle. Rudolph won’t have that in the NFL; how will he adjust? IDK. His system was typical Gundy stuff with hyper simple reads, few huddles, no pre-snap adjustments, etc., and the Big 12 defenses he faced were typically virtually non-existent. How will he fare against better, more complex defenses? IDK. The 2017 Texas game was I think a good example of what threatens to be Rudolph krytonite. Sit back in a 2 deep zone, keep the plays in front of you, and force Rudolph to march the length of the field on underneath stuff. Rudolph was pretty much shut down in that scenario. I don’t think he can fit TD throws in tight red zone windows, though he can throw a decent fade. I don’t think he can fare well against a defense that takes away the deep stuff and forces him to ride the underneath stuff all the way down the field. Bottom line to me: Rudolph looks like the prototypical Big 12 spread QB who has a weakish but accurate arm who puts up big #s with outstanding talent at WR and a passer friendly simple reads system. Can he succeed in the NFL? Maybe, but to me he’s a project with such a long way to go I can’t justify using a top pick on him. 4th round or lower for me.”

Draft Grade: First Round Selection

Before the season started, I had both Mayfield and Rudolph as 2 of my favorite QB’s in this draft class. Mayfield has mostly been accepted by the mainstream as a top pick, but people still haven’t come to think the same for Rudolph. All of the top 5 quarterback prospects have their issues. Rosen has his decision making, Darnold has his mechanics, Mayfield has his pocket presence, Jackson has his overall rawness. Rudolph is no different. What binds all these prospect together is the strong sense that they have franchise quarterback potential.

Some may look at Rudolph and see a college quarterback taking advantage of amazing talent around him, a high scoring offensive scheme or even just a pretty deep ball. Some may think that is all he has going for him. I wholeheartedly disagree. I see an athletic QB with prototypical size, that can do it all. He has the ability to manipulate defenses, has the accuracy to fit the ball into tight windows, has the cool head to maneuver a crowded pocket. Will he have a learning curve adjusting to the NFL, yes, but just about all the QB prospects will have to do that, or deal with other problems.

Right now, I have Rudolph as my #4 quarterback prospect. I go by the rule of if you think the guy is a franchise QB, you take him when you can. I believe Rudolph has franchise QB potential, and I would have no problem taking him at 6. It would have been nice to have seen him in action at the Senior Bowl this past weekend, but an injury kept him out. Nonetheless, my belief in Mason has unwavered. The only way we don’t pick a QB in the first, is if we grab Cousins in free agency. I think the odds of us landing Kirk are about 50/50, considering how much money we can throw at him. If we don’t, I would be more than happy to have Rudolph as our signal caller.