Mason Rudolph Deserves Place in Elite 2018 Quarterback Draft Class

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Oklahoma State Offense
File photo. Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph will lead the Cowboys against the TCU defense this weekend. (Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

After a disappointing 2017 NFL draft class for quarterbacks, the 2018 class is receiving plenty of hype. Players like USC’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen and Wyoming’s Josh Allen are headlining next year’s class. One player receiving some hype, but not to the same degree as the others, is Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph. However, Rudolph deserves plenty of attention as an NFL prospect as well.

Mason Rudolph Deserves Place in Elite 2018 Quarterback Draft Class

Impressive statistics

Rudolph is unfairly penalized because of the conference he plays in. Any quarterback in the contemporary Big 12 will get flak for the conference’s porous pass defenses. While his counting stats are impressive, however, Rudolph’s efficiency is extraordinary.

Rudolph passed for 4,091 yards in 2016, but his efficiency is where he stands out above the crowd. His AY/A for the season, which factors four stats into an adjusted measurement for yards per attempt, was 10.0, the eighth-best mark in the nation and second in the Big 12, behind Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield. This shows exceptional efficiency, illustrating a massive amount of yards gained and touchdowns passed for in relation to interceptions thrown.

Along the same vein, Rudolph’s miniscule interception rate stands out. He threw just four interceptions in 448 passing attempts last season. If he can repeat that ridiculous ratio, a 0.89 percent interception rate, in 2017, NFL scouts will be enamored with him.

Beyond the box scores

Stats don’t tell the entire story for Rudolph. He looks impressive when examining the numbers, but he has traits pro teams will want when searching for a franchise quarterback. First of all, his size is ideal for the next level, standing 6-foot-5 and weighing 230 pounds. Secondly, Rudolph has been a winner in Stillwater. That’s a common cop-out assessment of a player’s value, but his ability is a major factor in Oklahoma State’s 20 wins over the past two seasons. He has plenty of talent surrounding him, such as rising sophomore running back Justice Hill and rising senior wide receiver James Washington, but Rudolph is the undisputed leader of Oklahoma State’s offense.

Despite his great performances so far, he needs a strong 2017 to establish his value as a prospect. Coach Mike Gundy’s Cowboys should be the Oklahoma Sooners’ biggest threat atop the Big 12 this season. There is a lot on the line for Rudolph’s team, and subsequently for him, too. If he leads Oklahoma State to another 10-win season and replicates his 2016 stats, he will rocket up draft boards. If he regresses and/or the Cowboys disappoint in the standings, he could certainly lose out on first-round money. However, there is no indication that Rudolph can’t live up to or surpass expectations this season.

Mason Rudolph is one of the best players returning to the Big 12 this season. At the same time, Darnold, Rosen and Allen are all deserving of their draft hype as well. Rudolph, however, should be in that elite prospect group, too. Statistically, he stacks up well against the other three passers, finishing ahead of each of them in AY/A last season. In passer efficiency rating, he finished ahead of Rosen and Allen, and behind Darnold by just 2.2 points. Rudolph has ideal size for the next level, and an impressive collegiate resume. He may not usurp anyone from the trio of Darnold, Rosen and Allen, but he deserves to be mentioned alongside them as the top quarterback prospects for next year’s NFL draft.

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