The 2018 quarterback class has been talked about and analyzed to a fine pulp over the past 12 months. For the Buffalo Bills and their fanbase, there has been an ongoing argument over who is going to be “the guy” that the Bills target. Here are three reasons why Mason Rudolph might be the sleeper candidate that the Bills go after in the upcoming draft.
When Brandon Beane first took over as GM of the Bills, he was interviewed that summer and asked questions about what he looks for in a franchise quarterback. This was one of his responses at the time: “Obviously, you draw them up, from a physical standpoint, they look like Cam (Newton),” Beane said. “But how many are there like that? You want a guy, the stature, the height, you know, they’re standing over, they’re not worried about linemen in their face. It gives them the vision and all that. Arm strength.”
Poise, anticipation and placement with the pocket in his face
Beane was the assistant GM in Carolina when the team drafted Cam Newton with the first overall pick. So the reference there is significant. Let’s take a look at Cam’s measurables. Newton measures in at 6’5” and weighs 245 pounds. That is a big QB. While there are a couple good sized QBs in this draft class, only two stand out with the “stature” that Beane highlighted. Mason Rudolph is one of these guys, standing at 6’5” and weighing 230 lbs. The other is Josh Allen, also 6’5”, and pushing the scales at 234 lbs.
Rudolph definitely has the size that Beane talks about.
Stands tall in the pocket, works through progressions and completes it through traffic
There is no denying that Mason Rudolph produced in his collegiate career. The debate is over the factors that contributed to his production. Let’s just take a look at what he was able to accomplish in his four years at Oklahoma State.
Out of what most consider to be the top six quarterbacks in this draft class, Rudolph’s stats match up well. He boasts the 3rd-highest career completion percentage at 63.2%, 2nd-most total passing yards 13,618, 2nd-highest Y/A at 9.4, 2nd-most TDs at 93, and the 2nd-highest Passing Efficiency Rate (sports-reference.com).
Talk about dropping it in the bucket.
Passes over 20+ air yds:
Completion percentage 43.3% pic.twitter.com/FLsm3abl7M
— Cover 1 (@Cover_1_) January 12, 2018
According to PFF, Rudolph posted the highest grade in the draft class on third down and ranked second with a passer rating of 112.2. He also had the 2nd-highest percentage of positively-graded throws in the class and was the number two QB in the nation from a clean pocket and when pressured.
Rudolph has clearly put up the production to warrant being in the conversation with the other top QBs. Many have espoused the scheme he played in, the Big 12 not having good defenses, or the fact that he had great WRs when discussing Rudolph’s stat ‘inflation’. That’s something you can definitely debate, but you can’t whether he produced in the situation he was in. He did.
Recognition of what appears to be quarters coverage. Safeties at 10, CBs at about 8, Rudolph knows that the field safety has to keep an eye on the #2 WR. Takes the snap, finds the weak safety, holds him with his eyes and drops a dime for the TD. 40+ yard pass. pic.twitter.com/EXVlP5HSGp
— Cover 1 (@Cover_1_) January 11, 2018
This production, and the fact that he’s sitting on the outside of the top 5 on most mock drafts and boards, could make him the perfect value pick for the Bills, who have made it clear that they won’t chase assets outside of their own perceived values.
This is something that is always talked about at the quarterback position. In fact, Beane mentioned this in the same interview that was referenced above: “The intangibles are the other thing that you can’t necessarily measure from the film. I can turn on the film and watch some things. You obviously want to see quarterbacks live, but what’s this guy’s makeup? What’s his leadership? Do guys rally behind him? I go back to Carolina. Jake Delhomme, one of the greatest leaders I’ve ever been around. He was undrafted. The guy willed himself to lead the team the years he was in Carolina. His intangibles were a 12 on a one-to-ten scale. And that’s how he overcame his athletic limitations.”
While I don’t know about Rudolph’s leadership skills. I can speak to how he presents himself off the field. In all of his interviews and press conferences both in college and throughout this draft process, Mason comes off as a coach’s dream: confident, well-spoken, polite, knowledgeable, and doesn’t bite on press trying to bait him into answers. Obviously, this is not a quantifiable stat or measurable, but it is something that could very well move him up boards, especially with leadership like Beane and McDermott in Buffalo, who have proven over the past year to put a premium on this. When you watch him, he screams “process”.
NFL throw-right hash throw to the far side of the field outside the numbers
As described above, Rudolph checks a lot of boxes for the Bills to take a chance on him in the upcoming draft. From measurables to intangibles, he may not be the top QB on their board, but he seems to fit and would allow them to keep their picks, most likely, which adds value to him possibly being selected. There were rumors before the senior bowl that the Bills were interested in Rudolph; they scouted multiple games of his this season. Assuming the interest is still there, he might be higher on their board than many fans think. The notion that the Bills may draft Rudolph is one to keep an eye on.
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) March 19, 2018