Mason Rudolph is unlikely to be a first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft in the eyes of ESPN analyst Mel Kiper.
Some mock drafts have pegged the former Oklahoma State quarterback as a possible late first-round selection. However, Kiper said in a piece on ESPN.com that he believes Rudolph will go off the board in the middle of the second round.
I’ll be safe and say the top 50 picks. The three teams I’m eyeing as potential fits for the Oklahoma State signal-caller: New England at 43, Arizona at 47 and the L.A. Chargers at 48. I also wouldn’t be shocked if a team traded up to begin Round 2 and took him.
New England has been a team commonly associated with Rudolph in mock drafts and the pre-draft rumor mill. Rudolph and former Oklahoma State receiver James Washington both worked out for the Patriots this month.
However, unlike Kiper, some believe the Patriots could take Rudolph with their first-round pick if the team truly thinks he could be Tom Brady’s successor. Brady reportedly flirted with retirement this offseason before announcing he would return for another season. He will be 41 in August.
An early run on quarterbacks in the first round could inflate Rudolph’s value and push him into the first round. Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, USC’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen and Wyoming’s Josh Allen are all typically projected to be taken in the top 12 picks, and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson could be gone soon after with the Cardinals picking at No. 15. With the top five quarterback prospects off the board that early, Rudolph could suddenly become very valuable to quarterback-needy teams in the second half of the first round.
The NFL draft begins Thursday at 8 p.m. ET. If Rudolph is still on the board after Round 1, he’ll have to wait till the draft resumes Friday at 7 p.m. ET to find out where he will be selected.