In Thursday night’s second preseason game against the Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger probably would have gotten some time in the first or second series. Of course, he’s now in the concussion protocol. Currently second on the depth chart, Landry Jones would have likely gotten a lot of time in the game. But he’s injured too. Although there is no way to find a true silver lining in either injury, with adversity there often comes opportunity. The opportunity tonight will be for Joshua Dobbs (third on the depth chart) or Mason Rudolph (fourth) to begin to set themselves apart from the other.
Joshua Dobbs is a former fourth round draft pick out of Tennessee. While in college, he managed to complete 61.5% of his passes for a total of 7,138 yards. He was also able to accumulate 53 passing touchdowns vs. 27 interceptions during his is time at Tennessee. Add in a total of 32 rushing touchdowns and you have what makes for a solid, though perhaps unspectacular college career. Dobbs was good in bowl games but never really won consistently in the SEC. He is an intelligent player who owns a degree in aerospace engineering.
Last preseason, Dobbs completed 38-of-64 passes for two touchdowns and three interceptions (to go along with 34 yards rushing). In the first preseason game of this year, he went 9-for-13 with both a touchdown and interception.
Noticing the interceptions? Even in college he was only able to throw about two touchdowns for every interception. And that’s the major problem with him as a reserve- he just hasn’t proven to be safe yet.
Then there’s Mason Rudolph, the Steelers’ third round pick this year. He was spectacular at Oklahoma State during his collegiate career, completing 63.1% of his passes for a whopping 13,267 yards. Also noticeable are the 90 passing touchdowns vs. 26 interceptions he achieved. We’re talking about a far better touchdown to interception ratio than Dobbs while in college. Of course, there is better defense in the SEC than the Big 12. And Dobbs can run, something Rudolph really isn’t capable of. That said, their college careers weren’t even close.
In his only preseason contest, Rudolph was able to complete 7-of-12 passes for 102 yards.
What to expect tonight? Rudolph, even at this early stage, will begin to show why the Steelers traded up to draft him in the first place. It’s not that Dobbs doesn’t have the stuff to be a backup in his league. It’s that Rudolph is a much better and safer passer that will likely begin his move up the depth chart past Dobbs tonight.