Mason Rudolph on Ben Roethlisberger's comments: 'I'd probably say the same thing'

Mason Rudolph has yet to make his NFL debut for the Pittsburgh Steelers -- an event which isn't supposed to take place for at least another year or two as far as the regular season is concerned -- he's been in the NFL for just over a week, and he's nothing more than a third-round pick, but he's already emerged as one of the most interesting topics of the true NFL offseason, which begins immediately after the draft and doesn't end until the preseason. 

For that, Rudolph can thank his new teammate, Ben Roethlisberger

Since watching the Steelers take Rudolph with the No. 76 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft last week, Roethlisberger's reacted like a quarterback who knows his successor might've just entered the building. First, Roethlisberger came out and announced that he's prepared to play another three-to-five years, even though last year he contemplated retirement and said that it's "prudent and smart" to weigh retirement every offseason at his age. Then, he questioned the Steelers' decision to draft Rudolph -- a player Big Ben doesn't see helping the team right now. He also didn't sound all too excited about the possibility of mentoring Rudolph. 

So, what does Rudolph have to say about all of this? He was recently asked about one of Roethlisberger's comments. On NFL Network's "Path to the Draft," when he was asked about Big Ben's proclamation that Rudolph would have to wait a while to replace him, Rudolph gave a mature response.

"If I was Ben, I'd probably say the same thing," Rudolph said. "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."

To be clear, there's not much else Rudolph can say in this situation. It's not like he can come out and declare war on Big Ben by saying that he's ready to pry the starting job away from him before Roethlisberger is ready to retire. Even still, it's strange that it's the 22-year-old quarterback who sounds more mature and diplomatic than the 36-year-old quarterback in this situation. 

Since Rudolph got drafted, he's said all the right things. 

"It's not Ben's job to teach me anything," Rudolph said after getting drafted, per PennLive.com. "It's my job to learn."

To which Big Ben said ...

"I don't think I'll need to now that he said he doesn't need me. If he asks me a question, I might just have to point to the playbook," a laughing Roethlisberger told "Cook and Poni" on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh, a CBS Sports Radio station.

Roethlisberger is hardly the first established, future Hall of Fame quarterback to get defensive about his successor. In the aftermath of the Patriots' trade of Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers, ESPN's Seth Wickersham reported -- as part of a larger story on brewing tension within the Patriots' building -- that Brady "seemed liberated." (Brady later denied the report). Longtime Giants quarterback Eli Manning has said that it's not his job to mentor young quarterbacks. The point being, most players aren't excited about the idea of their team drafting their replacement. Big Ben's not the only one who's felt like this.

Still, it was surprising to hear Roethlisberger question the pick so openly during his interview with 93.7 The Fan.

"I was surprised when they took a quarterback because I thought that maybe in the third round, you know you can get some really good football players that can help this team now," Roethlisberger said. "Nothing against Mason. I think he's a great football player. I don't know him personally, but I'm sure he's a great kid. I just don't know how backing up or being the third -- who knows where he's going to fall on the depth chart -- helps us win now. But that's not my decision to make. That's on the coaches and the GM and the owner and those kind of things. If they feel like he can help our team, so be it. But I was a little surprised."

Here's where it's worth pointing out that Roethlisberger has missed seven regular-season games dating back to the 2015 season.

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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