The 2018 NFL Draft Prospect series breaks down draft-eligible players, highlighting their college production as well as their NFL potential. Daily fantasy players should know about NFL rookies before they’ve played a down of professional football because they are among the most misvalued assets in all of DFS. People who know NFL rookies have a significant DFS edge. The draft will be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, from April 26-28.
This piece is on Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph.
For more on all the other passers in the class, see our 2018 NFL draft quarterback rankings.
Updated as of Mar. 5.
Senior | 6’5″ and 235 Pounds | Born July 17, 1995 (Age: 22) | Projection: Rounds 2-3
Combine numbers: 40-yard: 4.9 sec | bench reps: DNP | 3-cone: DNP | 20-yard shuttle: DNP | vertical: 26 in | broad: DNP
There’s not much to dislike about Rudolph except that he played in a spread offense and wasn’t as productive against Big 12 competition as Baker Mayfield was. Otherwise, Rudolph had a good college career. A multi-sport high-schooler recruited by many Power Five programs, Rudolph arrived at Oklahoma State in 2014 with the intention of taking a redshirt season, but he was forced into action as a true freshman due to injuries to players ahead of him on the depth chart. Starting the final three games, Rudolph performed well, passing for 853 yards and six touchdowns to four interceptions. As a sophomore he started every game but split time with senior J.W. Walsh, who was used primarily as a runner and red zone quarterback, ultimately vulturing 26 touchdowns (13 passing, 13 rushing). Rudolph nevertheless still had a productive year, passing for 3,770 yards and 21 touchdowns on his way to 8.9 adjusted yards per attempt (AY/A).
In his two final seasons Rudolph excelled as the full-time quarterback, passing for 4,091 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2016 and 4,904 yards and 37 touchdowns in 2017 with elite marks of 10.0 and 10.7 AY/A. This past year the Cowboys were eighth in passing success rate (Football Study Hall): More than just the beneficiary of a soft Big 12 schedule, Rudolph completed 68.9 percent of his passes for 848 yards and seven touchdowns (to one interception) in his two 2017 games against non-conference Power Five opponents. Rudolph isn’t highly mobile, but in his two final seasons he did chip in 16 touchdowns as a runner and improve his rushing average from -0.84 to 0.69 yards per carry (including sacks). As a producer Rudolph was one of the best in college football over the past two years.
Although Rudolph is intriguing because of his prototypical size and big arm, he hasn’t gotten much draft hype, especially since he had to leave the Senior Bowl early. He could theoretically see his draft stock appreciate throughout the evaluation process à la Patrick Mahomes last year — especially if he displays high football intelligence in his pre-draft interviews — but as a Big 12 quarterback prospect he seems much more like Bryce Petty in 2015 than Mahomes, who at Texas Tech displayed a strong ability to extend plays with his pocket movement and agility. Even so, Rudolph in 2017 had an elite Pro Football Focus grade of 91.7 (fourth in the Football Bowl Subdivision), and he received the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award, which is granted to upperclassmen who have excelled as football players, students, citizens, and leaders. Given his size, college production, and accolades, it’s probable that some general manager will choose to draft him on Day 2.
Photo Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports