Why quarterback Mason Rudolph should return to Oklahoma State for his senior season instead of declaring for the 2017 NFL Draft.
One cause for concern for the Pokes future is the possible early departure of wide receiver James Washington and quarterback Mason Rudolph. Both players would likely be drafted in one of the first five rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft. Yet, they could both benefit greatly from returning to school for another season.
Rudolph put together an impressive 2016 campaign, leading the Cowboys to a nine-win regular season and their second consecutive second place finish in the Big 12. However, the fact that the Pokes underperformed against their in-state rivals in two consecutive de facto Big 12 title games generates doubt about Rudolph’s ability when it actually matters. Although, he did miss most of the 2015 Bedlam game because of a broken foot.
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Statistically, Rudolph was one of the best quarterbacks not only in the Big 12 but in the entire country. He threw for 3,777 yards and 25 touchdowns, with only four interceptions. Furthermore, he added another six touchdowns on the ground. That is a major improvement from the 21 passing touchdowns and nine interceptions he had last year.
There is one more big chance for Rudolph to prove himself this season in the Alamo Bowl. The Pokes face their former Big 12 rival Colorado. Coming in at no. 10, the Buffaloes are eager to successfully cap one of the most surprising seasons for any team in college football. A victory against a team that is as motivated as Colorado could help Rudolph’s draft stock.
The parts of Rudolph’s game that need improvement are his intermediate passing accuracy and overall confidence on the road. Rudolph had difficulties finding his receivers on slant and post routes for much of the season. Furthermore, he needs to improve his play on the road if he wants to become a quarterback the caliber of an NFL starter. His seven passing touchdowns on the road compared to 18 at home is too large of a discrepancy.
If Rudolph does decide to declare for the 2017 NFL Draft he will be competing with quarterbacks like Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky, Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes, and Miami’s Brad Kaaya. It’s not the best quarterback class the NFL has seen, and honestly, it’s lacking the talent that you would usually see in an NFL Draft class. However, all of those quarterbacks look more NFL ready than Rudolph.