Last week, Ben Roethlisberger questioned the Steelers' decision to draft quarterback Mason Rudolph in the third round since the team had bigger, more immediate needs. Big Ben also announced that "I plan on playing for three-to-five more years," reinforcing the point that selecting Rudolph amounted to a wasted draft pick.
The Steelers said it was an easy decision, especially since they considered Rudolph a first-round talent, and were perfectly comfortable to have him learn while watching Roethlisberger, a future Hall of Famer. And Rudolph, for his part, didn't seem worried by Roethlisberger's reaction.
"If I was Ben, I'd probably say the same thing," the rookie said earlier this week. "He's a competitor. Obviously, he has a lot of confidence in himself, like I do. Yeah, he's going to be a future Hall of Famer and I would expect him to say that. So I'm just looking forward to going in there and learning the system, competing, raising my level of play, preparing like I'm the starter even though obviously I won't be the starter. And just waiting and being prepared for whenever I get my time whenever my time comes, to be ready and take advantage of it."
But maybe Roethlisberger isn't as ruthlessly competitive as he wants us to believe. On Friday, the first day of rookie minicamp, Rudolph told reporters that Big Ben texted him and second-round pick James Washington the day before.
"He just reached out and said good luck in rookie minicamp. I was really appreciative of that. I haven't met him yet, but I'm looking forward to it," Rudolph said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Joe Rutter. "It meant a lot."
The young quarterback also reiterated that he's not worried about Big Ben's comments and that he expects everyone will come together once full practices begin.
For the Steelers, drafting Rudolph was the easy part. Now he has to prove he's capable. And before we entertain thoughts of him replacing Roethlisberger, Rudolph needs to prove he's better than 2017 fourth-rounder Joshua Dobbs, who didn't see the field last season, and Landry Jones, the 2013 fourth-rounder who is No. 2 on the depth chart and has a 3-2 record as a starter. And even then, recent history suggests that quarterbacks taken in the third round haven't found much success as starters.
Put another way: Big Ben's job is safe and we don't see that changing anytime soon. Meanwhile, Tommy Maddox, the man who lost his job to Roethlisberger, was right.