The Steelers second and third round draft picks were pure magic as a receiver-quarterback combo at Oklahoma State. Now they are Steelers’ teammates, taking part in the offseason program, including the recently completed rookie minicamp, at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
“I was sitting there after I was drafted, and I was taking a picture with one of my cousins then everyone started yelling,” said Washington. “Then I turned around and looked at the screen and I see Mason going to Pittsburgh and I was like, ‘This is crazy.’ I mean, you just don’t hear that happen regularly.
“Just for me to be able to be with my quarterback again sometime later down the road, it just means a lot because you don’t have to rebuild chemistry. You can just step right in and get going.”
The two have a pretty good history at Heinz Field. Last year against the University of Pittsburgh Rudolph threw for 497 yards and five touchdowns, before being pulled in the middle of the third quarter. Washington caught five of those passes for 124 yards.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Rudolph. “I was thrilled to hear his name called in the second round. He’s a former teammate of mine. Well, current teammate, former teammate. It didn’t even click until I started watching the NFL Network after I got the call. I said, ‘Wait a minute. Isn’t that guy that I used to throw balls to coming here too?’ So it will be awesome.
“He’s going to be a great player. I can’t wait to play with him again. To go on the next level, the next chapter with one of your brothers, with your best receiver that you’ve spent your whole college days with, that’s going to be one heck of a ride.”
Rudolph knows it might be some time before the ride begins. Sure, the two will likely work together in OTAs, minicamp, training camp and the preseason. But when the regular season rolls around, it’s going to be Ben Roethlisberger that is going to be connecting with Washington, and any other receiver on the field. And Rudolph gets that. But when he does get his chances, you are going to see a quarterback that brings a lot of attributes to the table the Steelers like, including durability, accuracy and toughness, among others.
“I love to throw the ball down the field,” said Rudolph. “I love to spread the ball out across the field. I think Pittsburgh has a pretty similar thought process and philosophy as far as throwing the football down the field. So, it will be a great fit in that perspective. I think I throw the ball with a lot of touch. I do it well. I think I’m athletic enough to extend the play and keep it alive.”
First impression: Washington didn’t know where he was going to be selected in the NFL Draft, but after having dinner with Coach Mike Tomlin and others the night before his Oklahoma State pro day, he knew the Steelers were a team he would love to play for.
“After that dinner, there was something about those guys that I really liked,” said Washington. “You didn’t get a sense that they were cocky, everyone was genuine, everyone had a great personality and I told myself, if these guys choose me, this is a place I could play forever and ever.”
And playing in front of Steelers Nation is something he can’t wait for. He got a quick introduction to them at the Fan Blitz on draft weekend and loved what he saw.
“All those fans, you can just tell that they’re faithful to their team,” said Washington. “They’re diehards. They bleed gold and black. That’s something that I really love.”
The other early impression Washington got was the dedication Steelers players have to being the best, something that immediately set in with him when he saw the six Super Bowl trophies.