Mason Rudolph waiting to prove critics wrong in NFL Draft and beyond

The consensus opinion ahead of the 2018 NFL Draft is that Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph is the fifth- or sixth-best quarterback in the class.

The Cowboys quarterback told Jim Rome in January he thinks he’s the best quarterback in the class after completing 65 percent of his passes for a nation-leading 4,904 yards and 37 touchdowns in 2017. But most mock drafts and projections have Rudolph — generally considered a late first-round to second-round pick — behind Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, Josh Rosen and Lamar Jackson.

Rudolph said he started private training the week after Oklahoma State’s 30-21 victory over Virginia Tech in the Camping World Bowl, but was set back by a mid-foot sprain that left him in a walking boot for three weeks. That prevented him from working out at the Senior Bowl (he attended interviews and meetings) and limited him at the Combine (he abstained from agility drills). By the time teams attended his pro day last week in Stillwater, however, he was back to 100 percent.

It was there Rudolph was seen having an extended conversation with Steelers brass, including head coach Mike Tomlin. Rudolph has also reportedly been targeted by Denver and Arizona, and continues to have meaningful conversations with several teams — though he has been asked not to reveal which franchises have shown interest.

In those conversations, the topics have ranged from how Oklahoma State’s offense translates to the NFL to Rudolph’s strengths, weaknesses and role in the Cowboys’ offense.

Without Andre Roberson, who is a known Harden-stopper (or as much of one as can exist on this planet), George has taken the primary assignment but went to the bench shortly after Harden’s 3 for a quick rest. Russell Westbrook took over the assignment, likely to just spell George until he could return. But Westbrook, who infuriates some with his tantalizing but very inconsistent defensive ability, cranked it up. And when George checked back in after about a minute, Westbrook told him not to switch back. The reigning MVP was taking the expected MVP.

“When the game is on the line, I knew what needed to be done,” Westbrook said. “I told Paul and Corey [Brewer] to take somebody else. I got him.”

He fought over every screen, jumped passing lanes and frustrated Harden. It sparked a 9-0 run for the Thunder to go up eight midway through the fourth, which included a Westbrook 3, a Westbrook layup and a Westbrook steal and pass to George for two free throws.

Westbrook shows relentless defense vs. HardenRussell Westbrook knocks the ball out of bounds and then steals it from James Harden in the 4th quarter.