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What Draft Experts Are Saying about Rudolph and Washington to Pittsburgh

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is about to become Steelwater, USA with the Steelers choosing to draft Oklahoma State teammates Mason Rudolph and James Washington on Day 2 of the 2018 NFL Draft last weekend.

Oklahoma State fans are of course loving the move, both seeing the two friends have the opportunity to continue their careers together, and having them both drafted into good situation by a stable and winning franchise.

But while we may like the landing spot, and subsequent story, it’s always good to know what the “experts” think about the picks.


ESPN’s draft guru Mel Kiper gave the Steeler’s overall draft class a C+ grade in his immediate reaction. He notes that the rating could change drastically if Rudolph and Washington turn into what we hope they will.

Oklahoma State tandem Mason Rudolph (pick 76) and James Washington (60) were so good together that Pittsburgh decided to bring them both along. And if the Steelers found the eventual replacements for Ben Roethlisberger and Martavis Bryant, this draft will be viewed much differently. But Rudolph isn’t without risk — he’s a little stiff, but he throws a beautiful deep ball. [ESPN]

NFL.com gave the Steeler’s Day 2 picks a “B+” grade,

Trading Martavis Bryant to Oakland for a third-round pick meant they needed to find another big-play receiver. Washington isn’t tall or an elite speedster, but his super-long arms and ability to win the jump ball make him a solid find late in the second round. He was paired with his former teammate, Rudolph, in the third round. They could make for an interesting duo in a couple of years. Rudolph was a good third-round value. [NFL.com]

Over at Sports Illustrated (every OSU fan’s favorite site!), Andy Benoit did not love the Washington pick, grading the selection a “C.”

Washington has to be better than Martavis Bryant for this pick to fully pan out. Off the field, that’s easy. On the field, it’s hard. Washington is a vertical receiver, which the Steelers covet opposite Antonio Brown and dynamic possession man JuJu Smith-Schuster. With Darrius Heyward-Bey (another speedster) and Justin Hunter on the roster, Washington doesn’t necessarily have to contribute right away, though as a second-rounder on a Super Bowl-ready team, you hope he can. [Sports Illustrated]

He gave the same grade to the Rudolph pick.

If the Steelers really thought Rudolph were a likely replacement for Ben Roethlisberger, they would have drafted him with their late first-round pick—or at least their late second-rounder. Instead, they see Rudolph as a POTENTIAL replacement, meaning they’ve gambled a third-round pick to maybe catch lightning in a bottle. And that might be all this is—a gamble—since last year’s fourth-round selection of Joshua Dobbs, theoretically, took care of the long-term backup QB situation. Then again, Dobbs may have to fight for a roster spot now, considering Landry Jones (in a contract year) gives the Steelers an immediate backup, and Rudolph now gives them four QBs. [Sports Illustrated]

Pete Prisco of CBS Sports similarly wasn’t all that impressed with the Washington selection, giving it a “C” grade.

They replace Martavis Bryant with a vertical threat. But he needs to learn to do more. [CBS Sports]

However, he did really like the Rudolph pick, giving it an “A” grade. Like others, Prisco mention the value at getting him in the third round.

I like the value here. He is their quarterback of the future. It’s a solid addition in this spot. [CBS Sports]

SBNation’s Dan Kadar ranked every team, giving the Steelers a “C-” grade overall. He did seem optimistic about the Washington pick, though he made one of my least favorite (and the laziest) take on the Rudolph pick.

Wide receiver James Washington, taken at No. 60 overall, is a good vertical threat who will help the Steelers replace Martavis Bryant, who was traded to Oakland. Mason Rudolph at No. 76 is a pick that got a lot of attention. Can he be the successor to Ben Roethlisberger or is he just another Landry Jones? At the least, it was a good value choice. [SB Nation]

Pro Football Focus’s Sam Monson and Steve Palazollo offered their thoughts on the picks, offering high praise for

The Steelers snagged one of the nation’s most prolific duos in the nation in Oklahoma State’s James Washington and Mason Rudolph. Washington led the country with 815 yards on deep passes last season and he has downfield body control to continue that production at the next level. Rudolph is a fine developmental option behind Ben Roethlisberger as he was in the first-round discussion throughout the draft process. Rudolph posted the top grade in the draft class on third downs, though his short-area ball location and red zone work must improve. [PFF]

Finally, Curt Popejoy of SteelersWire, a Pittsburgh Steelers site, gave positive individual grades for both picks. For Washington, he gave the pick an “A.”

As soon as the Steelers traded Martavis Bryant to the Oakland Raiders you knew a wide receiver pick was coming. Oklahoma State’s James Washington is the best deep threat in the draft and will be a perfect fit along with Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster. [Steelers Wire]

He was also someone who seemed to really like the Mason Rudolph pick, giving it an “A” grade as well.

When you get a chance to draft a quarterback with some of the best skills in the draft you don’t pass on it. The Steelers traded up in the third round to get Mason Rudolph and they look at him as one of the best quarterbacks in the class. He has a chance to develop into the next franchise quarterback for this team. [Steelers Wire]

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