2018 NFL Draft Scouting Report
Prospect:  Mason Rudolph


   

School:          USC
Ht:  6'5"       Wt:  230
Eligibility:      SR
Uniform:       #2
Position:      QB










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I was a little surprised to see Rudolph return to school for his senior season. Not because I didn't think he had room to improve, but I honestly felt he could have competed to be the top signal-caller last year, whereas this is a more talented crop of quarterbacks eligible for the 2018 draft. Still, it speaks to the competitor and teammate he is that he chose to stay, knowing that Oklahoma State might have a good chance to not only compete for a conference title but also a spot in the College Football Playoff. That kind of loyalty is an outstanding quality in a quarterback, and while he may not have the elite traits that Sam Darnold of USC, Josh Rosen of UCLA, or Josh Allen of Wyoming possess, he has the skillset to be a starter in the NFL.


There is no doubt that Rudolph looks the part. His 6-5 frame may need to add a bit of bulk, but he is not a slender player. He has very good arm strength, and while the spread system at Oklahoma State does tend to produce a lot of wide-open targets, he does appear to have above-average accuracy. Rudolph displays good ball placement and a keen understanding for putting touch on passes. He is also an above-average athlete and has a tendency to use it to extend plays. Mike Gundy's offense is far from an NFL scheme, but Rudolph does show signs of being comfortable in the pocket. Unlike most spread quarterbacks, he tends to step up to avoid pressure as opposed to continuing to drop backward. The one area I praise him most is, unlike the other three I mentioned, he doesn't show that gunslinger mentality. There aren't a lot of balls thrown across his body or forced into tight coverage. Part of that could be the design of the scheme that protects him from doing so, but he tends to make smart decisions with the ball.

Unfortunately, that may be the extent of his positives, and that is why I believe he isn't in the same class as the aforementioned three. The scheme he plays in is much simpler than the other three, and while I have seen him read the full field a few times, it is a rare occasion. The route tree at Oklahoma State is very rudimentary, and he seldom has to make more than one read before he throws the ball. I have also only seen Rudolph take a couple of snaps under center in the six games I scouted. One of which was fumbled while another was bobbled. The lack of experience in that field is a difficult one to get past. Not only do you have to be comfortable taking snaps but you also have to be comfortable reading as you drop, and turning your back to the line of scrimmage on play-action. Those are aspects of the NFL game that spread quarterbacks usually struggle with at the next level.

That is not the only disadvantage he will have mentally, at the next level. Pre-snap reads are becoming mandatory in NFL offenses. Identifying blitzes and sliding protections or altering plays is a must if you want to last in the NFL. Some teams have offensive linemen or others than can help in some of those areas, but ideally, those responsibilities fall on the quarterback. That is why it is difficult for me to see quarterbacks wait for coaches on the sidelines to make these adjustments. Rudolph has started 29 games prior to the beginning of this season. He has attempted 958 passes while only throwing 17 interceptions. I believe he has the ability to run this offense himself. It would go a long way for his status as a draft prospect if Gundy gave him that responsibility and his first three seasons as a Cowboy prove Rudolph is worthy of the opportunity. One other area I am concerned with is his hands. Last year against Oklahoma, Rudolph struggled to grip the football in the rain. In that game, Baker Mayfield, a much smaller quarterback with less arm strength, completed nearly 70 percent of his passes while Rudolph completed a meager 44 percent. If his hands are on the smaller side, his draft stock could take a hit.


Overall, Rudolph is an exciting prospect to watch. He has improved each year while displaying himself as a leader on and off the field. Also, while he may enter the NFL at a mental disadvantage, he is a smart football player, and with time, he should be able to pick up an NFL-scheme. There may not be an elite trait in his repertoire, but he is a likely candidate to be drafted in the first round. More importantly, he will have a chance to display those talents in the Senior Bowl, should he decide to compete at the end of the season. While Darnold, Rosen, and Allen are waiting for the Combine and their Pro Days to workout, he will have a week to be the center of attention.

Compares to (Current NFL Player): Blaine Gabbert (Arizona Cardinals)

Strengths
- Appears very accurate with touch
- Prototypical size
- Plenty of arm strength
- Makes smart decisions with the football
- Should end his career with over 40 starts to his credit
- Above-average athlete


Weaknesses
- Plays in a spread scheme
- Pre-snap responsibility is minimal
- Smaller hands struggled in the rain


Austin Smith
smith.austinj14@gmail.com
June 24, 2017

Video Courtesy of DraftBreakdown


Articles/Links
1)   OSU football: Why Mason Rudolph has quietly used his position on the field to affect people off of it   - NewsOK
2)   Mason Rudolph to James Washington: Connection could propel Oklahoma State   - USA Today
3)   OSU football: Quarterback Mason Rudolph played much of last season with cracked rib    - NewsOK.com
4)   Mason Rudolph Instagram
5)   Mason Rudolph Twitter











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