Mason Rudolph announced shortly after the 2016 season ended that he would not be entering the NFL Draft, but that didn’t mean the NFL wasn’t on his mind. The Oklahoma State quarterback spent time studying the two signal callers who happened to be a part of Super Bowl LI.
“I spent a lot of time this offseason… I did a study on Matt Ryan and Tom Brady, and I just wanted to look at them throughout the year and just their movements, pocket movements, and the way they extended plays,” Rudolph said during Big 12 media days. “Neither of them are the Michael Vick-type guys. What is their footwork like? You can learn plenty of things and in the offseason there is plenty of time.”
Rudolph remains one of the most overlooked quarterbacks in the country. This year, all the hype goes to USC’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Louisville’s Lamar Jackson and Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett. Heck, he’s not even the most popular quarterback in his own state, with those honors going to Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield. But when it’s all said and done, the NFL Draft may have Rudolph right up there with the best of the best.
“[Tom] Brady’s my favorite [quarterback] right now,” Rudolph admits. “He’s the best in the game right now. Obviously, Peyton [Manning] when he was playing, I loved to watch Peyton. Of course it helps when you know the guy and you’ve actually had a conversation with him, it’s cool to see him go do his thing.”
Who knows if Rudolph ever gets to that Brady/Manning level. 99% don’t. But his stock will continue to grow as this season progresses. He has the ideal pro size at 6’5”, 230 pounds and his 55 career touchdowns to 17 interceptions blow out some of the other top quarterbacks in the sport. Sam Darnold has less than a season under his belt, Josh Rosen has just 33 touchdowns to 16 interceptions during his time at UCLA and has dealt with several injuries. Lamar Jackson’s size will always be a concern, while J.T. Barrett’s inconsistency has hurt him, and few believe Baker Mayfield has the pro tools necessary to compete at the next level.
But with a 2016 quarterback class that didn’t have any “sure things”, why did Mason Rudolph return to Stillwater?
Once again, he thinks back to one of his favorite NFL legends. “I remember Peyton Manning saying you never get those days of college back and the NFL will be there forever.”
In fact, this offseason Rudolph spends much of his spare time watching film of Brady, Manning and Ryan. He will end up texting Mike Gundy or offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich with his thoughts or input on things he saw one of those three of NFL do on tape.
Heck, Mason Rudolph has even found support and inspiration from another NFL QB, who even happened to wear the same uniform: Brandon Weeden. Granted, Weeden hasn’t had the NFL success anywhere close to the other three Rudolph talked about, but there is a bond between the two.
“[Brandon’s] been great… he’s an unbelievable talent and I still go back and watch some of his film from college. He’s been very helpful for me. Just knowledge and the wisdom that he has and how he went through all the things I’m going through.”
But while Rudolph has his sights set on the NFL in 2018, it doesn’t mean he’s overlooking this fall. “We want to win the Big 12 title,” Rudolph said. “We know that if we can do that, we can get into the Final Four, which will set us up for other things. Our philosophy is a baby step approach. We’re focused on tomorrow morning. Weight room, quarterbacks meeting, and then player-lead practice. If we don’t take care of that we’re doing ourselves a disservice.”
While the parallels are certainly there between Oklahoma State’s 2011 and 2017 seasons, there’s one place Mason Rudolph won’t be getting mentoring from Brandon Weeden: the golf course. “[Brandon’s] a big golfer. I’m not as into golf as he is, especially in Oklahoma when it’s 105 degrees in the summer,” Rudolph joked.
The good thing is, as long as Mason Rudolph is winning games across the Heartland when the temperatures dip into the 40’s and 50’s in November, that’s all Cowboys fans will care about.
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