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Quarterback Mason Rudolph highlights a busy draft day for Steelers

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Pittsburgh went offense in the second round of the NFL Draft Friday night and picked two Oklahoma State offensive stars in 5-11, 213-pound. wide receiver James Washington, who went 60th overall and quarterback Mason Rudolph, who went 76th overall.

The Steelers dealt wide receiver Martavis Bryant to Oakland for an extra third round choice, so Washington will be given a chance to make up the slack. 

“We got a chance to know this young man. Really interesting, tough guy, runs fast, scores touchdowns—that’s a need we had,” said offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner “Martavis [Bryant] could run. This guy can too. He plays strong. [Football] is a physical game. He’s intelligent. The hope is he would be no-maintenance.” 


Fichtner feels Washington is capable of playing multiple positions on the field. 


“He’s not a one-trick pony. He comes in with a lot of tricks. That allows us to put him in a lot of different positions,” Fichtner said. “He’s very similar in physique [to current Steeler wide receiver] Juju Smith-Schuster. He’s big and strong. He’s going to fight for the ball.” 


Washington had met with the Steelers before the draft and was impressed with head coach Mike Tomlin. He was delighted to be drafted by the Steelers. Washington considers himself to have a good work ethic. He probably learned some of that by working on his family farm. He was an agricultural business major in college. 


“I’m glad the Steelers decide to choose me. I’m going to give them everything I got. I think I’m a hard work and dedicated. I’m going to give my all,” Washington said. “I’m a big AB [Antonio Brown] fan. [The Steelers] have the best [wide receivers] in the league. I’m looking forward to working with them.” 

 



Washington set a school record in receiving yards with 4,472, which was also the second-best in Big 12 history. He scored 39 touchdowns last season which led all FBS players. He won the Biletnikoff Award last season as the top wide receiver. He also earned unanimous All-American and All-Big 12 honors. 


Then the Steelers pulled somewhat of a schocker in the third round (76 overall) with their next pick by trading a seventh-round pick with Seattle to move up three spots and take the 6-5, 235-pound gunslinger Rudolph. Coincidentally, he was Washington’s quarterback at Oklahoma State. 

Fichtner was just as excited about the chance to coach another quarterback as he was about coaching Rudolph’s wide receiver. Some draft experts felt Rudolph could have been a first round pick. 


“Mason Rudolph is big strong, athletic, and has scored a lot of touchdowns. He throws the deep ball very well. He’s a winner,” Fichtner said. “The beauty is always in the eye of the beholder. It just so happened this pick was the best available at the time.” 


Rudolph is looking forward to returning to Pittsburgh, where he visited last September, playing Pitt at Heinz Field and tossing for 497 yards in the 59-21 thumping of the Panthers.  Washington tallied up 124 of those yards receiving on five catches.  


“When we played in September, I had no idea [being picked by the Steelers] was in the works. [Heinz Field] was an unbelievable venue and a great atmosphere. I always wanted to be a Steeler. You can’t predict going to the next level with one of your brothers,” Rudolph said. “I’m a competitor to the bone. I’m going to work on learning the system as best I can. It’s not their job to teach me, it’s my job to learn. I’ll just take it day by day and do whatever the coaches want me to do.” 


Rudolph won more games than any other quarterback at Oklahoma State (32-9). He held 54 different school records at Oklahoma State. He ranks fourth in Big 12 history with 13,618 passing yards and third with a 324.2 passing yard per game average. He was a second team All-American and second team Big 12 last season.  


The Steelers had two draft picks in the third round this year, and they used their second pick in the third round by staying on the offensive side of the ball, drafting 6-6, 320-pound offensive tackle Chukwuma Okorafor from Western Michigan with the 92nd pick overall. 


Offensive line coach Mike Munchak was looking forward to adding another lineman to the roster. 


“You’re always thrilled to add to your room. All assistants always want a new guy. The way a draft falls, you never know what to expect. I’m glad it fell this way. Maybe getting the extra third [round] pick helped us. I’ll take as many [players] as I can get,” Munchak said. “He can play right or left tackle. He has good size and strength. He’s capable of doing what we ask our tackles to do. We feel like he can compete right away.”

  

 

Okorafor was not as familiar with the Steelers but is happy to be coming to Pittsburgh. 


“I’ve only met the Steelers at the combine,” he said. “I’m happy the Steelers took a chance on me.” 


The draft continues on Saturday with the fourth through the seventh rounds, although the Steelers do not have a fourth round pick this year. 

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