Can Dwayne Haskins surpass Mason Rudolph on Steelers depth chart?
By Tommy Jaggi
The Pittsburgh Steelers have an interesting situation at quarterback. Is it possible for Dwayne Haskins to leapfrog Mason Rudolph on the depth chart?
Most fans were excited when the Pittsburgh Steelers signed quarterback Dwayne Haskins after his release from the Washington Football Team. Rarely do you see a former first-round pick get the boot after just two seasons with the team that drafted him. To see this happen to a quarterback is even rarer.
The Steelers admittedly liked Haskins entering the 2019 NFL Draft, and they were willing to take a chance on him. Haskins, of course, is off to a very rocky start to begin his NFL career. In addition to posting a 3-10 career record with more interceptions than touchdowns (12 to 14), he also has been near the bottom of the league in yards per attempt over his first two NFL seasons.
In addition, there are questions about Haskins’ character and leadership qualities, as the former 15th overall pick clearly fell out of favor with his coaching staff. The fact that Washington gave up on a 23-year-old QB just two years into his NFL career on a rookie contract is concerning in itself.
Fortunately for Pittsburgh, Dwayne Haskins is trending in the right direction early at Steelers training camp. In fact, many would argue that he has outperformed second-string passer, Mason Rudolph, over the first two days of practice open to the public at Heinz Field.
Haskins has noticeably more velocity on his throws and has been looking down the field more frequently in 11-on-11 action. As a result, he has connected on some big plays that really drew the attention of the crowd in attendance. On the other hand, Rudolph seems to be checking the ball down underneath too often early in training camp and has made some questionable decisions with the football. Because of this, is it possible for Haskins to surpass Rudolph on the depth chart to open the season?
Can Haskins surpass Rudolph on the Steelers depth chart?
Obviously, we assume that the coaches are taking notice of some of the strong performances Haskins has been able to string together during Steelers training camp practices. However, we aren’t inside the facility to see how he has been doing when it comes to the Xs and Os of the game.
If Haskins is catching on to the new offense quickly (and he appears to be doing so), I think it’s possible for him to surpass Rudolph on the depth chart before the start of the season. However, this certainly won’t come easy, and he will need to be noticeably better throughout camp and the preseason.
You are probably well aware that the Steelers aren’t going to easily give up on a player they were high on in the NFL Draft. This is probably why Jarvis Jones and Artie Burns combined to start 67 games despite showing very little promise whatsoever. Rudolph may have the same opportunity – to be given every single chance to prove why he’s not the guy.
In addition, Rudolph is the only quarterback on the team who is signed beyond the 2021 season. However, his $4 million cap number next season hardly breaks the bank, and he’s still pretty good value as a backup if that’s how Pittsburgh intends to use him.
While Haskins has been, by most accounts, the more impressive player between the two early in camp, it’s going to take a lot before the team decides to move forward with him as the team’s number two quarterback in 2021. However, if he can continue to consistently make plays down the field and make good decisions with the football, a shift in the pecking order is something that cannot be ruled out.