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Is Mason Rudolph underrated, or are Big 12 QB’s that good?

Rudolph had a stellar sophomore season, but respect around the country is lacking. What gives?

NCAA Football: Oklahoma State at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma State fans have been spoiled with great quarterback play over the decade. We are now eight seasons beyond when Zac Robinson first took the field for the Cowboys. A long line of successful signal-callers has followed: Brandon Weeden, Clint Chelf, J.W. Walsh and now Mason Rudolph.

The Big 12 is loaded with quarterbacks. The league is arguably the most talented it’s ever been at the position. Baker Mayfield, Seth Russell, Patrick Mahomes and Mason Rudolph headline a group that goes even deeper than those four. But this is where things get tricky; how does Mason Rudolph stack up compared to the rest of the league?

Mayfield is a reigning Heisman trophy contender. He comes back into the season with loads of experience, but OU lost some talent in the wide receiver group to graduation. Seth Russell was considered a Heisman frontrunner by some before a neck injury sidelined him for the remainder of the 2015 season. Patrick Mahomes is young, dynamic quarterback that oozes talent. Mahomes is considered by many to be the most athletic quarterback in the conference. Behind those three, you’ve got guys like Kenny Hill at TCU, Skyler Howard at West Virginia and Kyler Murray backing up Baker Mayfield (who is ineligible for the 2016 season).

So where does that leave Mason Rudolph?

Rudolph, now a junior (if you can believe that), is considered a potential first-round draft pick for the 2017 NFL Draft, if he was to turn pro after his senior year. He is the top pro prospect at the quarterback position in the Big 12. But he has yet to gain the recognition from fans and analysts in the conference that would typically come with that type of praise from draft analysts. But alas, Rudolph has been constantly placed in the 4-6 range of Big 12 quarterbacks.

Is the Big 12 so good that a quarterback who threw for 3770 yards and 21 touchdowns (while forfeiting every red zone opportunity) is considered a second tier quarterback? Or is it that Rudolph isn’t getting enough respect around the conference? The lack of respect is astounding. Take a look at this:

Rudolph led all power-5 teams in deep pass accuracy and deep passing yards last season. We know he can throw the deep ball, but a knock on him lately has been his inability to make the intermediate throw (*throws back head, laughs audibly*). Take a look at his numbers when spread out all over the field:

Over the middle of the field, Rudolph is solid. And his intermediate numbers are solid as well. While completing just under 60 percent of his passes between 10-20 yards spanning the width of the field, he completed 59 percent of his passes 20+ yards down the middle of the field. He also completed 67 percent of his passes between 0-10 yards, spanning the width of the field. As a true sophomore, those numbers are very, very good.

I’ll take 21 touchdowns and over 3700 yards passing any day, but that’s just me. So, what do you think? Is the Big 12 that good, or is Mason Rudolph underrated around the conference?

Editor’s note: At the time of publication, Jarrett Stidham had announced his intent to transfer from Baylor, but we were unaware. We apologize for any misinformation.