The Senior Bowl is right around the corner and it is shaping up to be one for the ages. There is seemingly endless top-level talent heading down to compete, especially at the quarterback position. The list includes four highly rated QBs: Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen, Luke Falk, and Mason Rudolph. The collection of talent at the premier position should really bring out the competition down in Mobile — competition that could really boost Rudolph’s draft value.
Rudolph always seems to fly under the radar. Somehow he made his way out of the south coming out of high school without a scholarship offer from any of the SEC or ACC schools after growing up in South Carolina. He was a star, having put up over 10,000 passing yards and 132 touchdowns. Gawdy statistics for a high school kid, but those numbers were only added upon at Oklahoma State. Rudolph finished his 42-game college campaign with 13,618 yards and 92 touchdowns.
As much as his talent was overlooked in high school, his talent again is being overlooked by a lot of fans and scouts heading into draft season. Rudolph doesn’t have the howlitzer that Josh Allen possesses or the accuracy of Baker Mayfield, but he has just enough of all of the traits to be a proficient passer to any level of the field, and especially on deep ball passes. Rudolph has the type of deep ball passing that offenses would want to pair with a good run game.
Defenses were continuously in a bind when they played Oklahoma State: do we load the box and stop a very talented Justice Hill, or do we let the triggerman slice through the defense with his talented pairing of Marcell Ateman and James Washington? Opposing coaches tried it all, but the experienced QB was still able to produce.
According to SportsInfo Solutions (SIS), Rudolph was one of the most productive deep ball passers. On passes over 20 yards, Rudolph passed for 1,650 yards, 15 touchdowns, and only four interceptions.
Rudolph showed the ability to recognize coverages, hold safeties with his eyes, and then place an accurate ball.
The Kansas State defense appears to be in quarters coverage and the Cowboys have a ‘Mills’ concept dialed up. The ‘Mills’ concept is a very good two-high safety beater. The dig/crossing route by the #2 is aimed at pulling the field safety to open up the post to Washington.
As you can see, the safety is stacked right behind the slot player. The slot defender will guard the #2 receiver until that receiver runs past linebacker level, at which time the safety then takes over the route. Post-snap, the field safety opens his hips towards Washington as if he is going to help, but the slot defender re-directs the #2 back inside, so the safety jumps the route.
This gives Washington the inside leverage to the deep post, but Rudolph must hold the boundary safety with this eyes; he does a good job of doing that.
The safety is held on his landmark, giving Rudolph the green to nail down the deep pass. It’s a small window, but the pass is up the field and just out of reach of the defensive back.
The post pattern is one of Rudolph’s prettiest passes. In 2017, he led the nation with 768 yards and 10 touchdowns on post patterns alone. Here’s the play in full.
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 (@Cover1) January 11, 2018
Draft Twitter and fans say that he doesn’t have the arm strength to succeed at the next level, and I would have to disagree. He has plenty of arm to keep defenses honest, especially if he is paired with a good run game. If teams stack the box, then Rudolph can expose coverage with the deep ball.
On this play, TCU attempts to run a 3-on-2 coverage.
Upon release, Rudolph really shouldn’t even be throwing this deep to Washington. There’s safety help over the top of both of the routes. But he is a confident passer, both in his arm strength and accuracy.
The placement is perfect.
Washington is able to shift into that next gear and run up under it, and he then springs into the end zone.
Talk about dropping it in the bucket.— Cover 1 (@Cover1) January 12, 2018
Passes over 20+ air yds:
Completion percentage 43.3% pic.twitter.com/FLsm3abl7M
Rudolph, at this point, is seen as a solid second rounder, but he has the chance to boost that stock while down in Mobile. His ability to make all of the throws, especially deep, will keep defenses honest, even at the highest level.