Mason Rudolph waiting to prove critics wrong in NFL Draft and beyond

The consensus opinion ahead of the 2018 NFL Draft is that Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph is the fifth- or sixth-best quarterback in the class.

Mason Rudolph waiting to prove critics wrong in NFL Draft and beyond

Mason Rudolph waiting to prove critics wrong in NFL Draft and beyond

Rudolph politely disagrees.

MORE: Is Rudolph best OSU QB ever?

The Cowboys quarterback told Jim Rome in January he thinks he's the best quarterback in the class after completing 65 percent of his passes for a nation-leading 4,904 yards and 37 touchdowns in 2017. But most mock drafts and projections have Rudolph — generally considered a late first-round to second-round pick — behind Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, Josh Rosen and Lamar Jackson.

“That’s the general consensus, right? I mean, I’m with you as far as the talking heads, ESPN, NFL Network,” Rudolph told Sporting News. “But I think if you talk to those guys and then you talk to the actual decision-makers and the evaluators in the NFL, you get two different opinions. I think everyone’s going to see draft night what’s going to happen and how it’s all going to sort itself out.

"But ... I feel like I am definitely in the conversation with the other talked-about members (of this class). But I’ve never been a talked-about guy — since high school. It’s what I did in high school. I was never highly recruited. I had a few offers, and ended up outlasting a whole lot of other high-profile players, you know, played a lot better than them and had a lot better career. So that’s what I plan to do again at the next level. I believe it. I know it’s going to happen."

Before boarding an airplane on Friday to begin another round of team visits, Rudolph said he has had “a few” private workouts in Stillwater, Okla. this week, and has two more lined up in the next few days.

Rudolph said he started private training the week after Oklahoma State's 30-21 victory over Virginia Tech in the Camping World Bowl, but was set back by a mid-foot sprain that left him in a walking boot for three weeks. That prevented him from working out at the Senior Bowl (he attended interviews and meetings) and limited him at the Combine (he abstained from agility drills). By the time teams attended his pro day last week in Stillwater, however, he was back to 100 percent.

It was there Rudolph was seen having an extended conversation with Steelers brass, including head coach Mike Tomlin. Rudolph has also reportedly been targeted by Denver and Arizona, and continues to have meaningful conversations with several teams — though he has been asked not to reveal which franchises have shown interest.

In those conversations, the topics have ranged from how Oklahoma State's offense translates to the NFL to Rudolph's strengths, weaknesses and role in the Cowboys' offense.

MOCK DRAFT: Bills, Jaguars land right QBs

“What I told the people at the Combine is that you’ve seen a whole lot of ‘spread’ quarterbacks,” Rudolph said. “That term does not bother me in the least, but you’ve seen guys like Jared Goff and Deshaun Watson, who couldn’t have been more spread and ended up just fine in the NFL. So that is not even on my dashboard of worries at all.

“I think in all the meetings I’ve had, the conversations, the interviews, the NFL people see a whole lot of translation in the concepts and the drop-back passes that we run at Oklahoma State."

In one of his Combine interviews, Rudolph said, a team tasked him with doing just. They showed him a play, had him watch NFL game film for 10 minutes, then asked him to apply the play into the film he watched.

It was a play Oklahoma State ran 70 times last season.

“I crushed it," Rudolph said, "because it was basically the same play we ran except for different verbiage, different way to call it. So they understand that. People that watch film understand that. And I think the media’s going to catch up soon enough.”

Another prevalent criticism facing Rudolph is that, for all his measurables, he lacks elite velocity and arm strength. But he says those worries haven't come up much in meetings — and that arm strength apparently isn’t as coveted in the NFL as many think.

“I’d say arm strength is definitely important. You want to be able to make all the throws in the book,” he said. “But it’s funny, I was talking to a coach yesterday — I had a private workout yesterday morning — and he asked me, he said, ‘What is the biggest attribute a quarterback has to have to be successful in the NFL?’ And I said, ‘Arm strength or durability.’ He said, ‘No. Not arm strength. It’s being available.’

“He said, ‘I was on the golf course with Dan Marino and all these other quarterbacks, Elway, and they were all talking amongst themselves about that very same question. They said, ‘Being available.’ It doesn’t get talked about a lot because the guys like Drew Brees and Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, they’ve been available for so long. It’s because they take care of their bodies."

MORE: Johnny Manziel offers advice to QB prospects

In that sense, Rudolph said, he has more than proven his worth to prospective NFL teams.

“Peyton Manning never had a rocket arm," Rudolph said. "I mean the guy was extremely accurate, but he was available and he was durable over his 18-year career. I think I’ve shown over my career I’ve been able to play with a lot of injuries. Only missed one start. Very available. Very durable. Do I have the strongest arm in this draft class? No, but I’m very accurate and I get the team down the field and I score points on most drives."

Back To Top