Steelers Draft ‘Sleeper’ QB; Mason Rudolph’s Job ‘In Jeopardy’

Quarterback Chris Oladokun

Michael Hickey/Getty Images Chris Oladokun of the South Florida Bulls is tripped up by Kimoni Fitz of the Cincinnati Bearcats at Nippert Stadium on November 10, 2018.

Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert has said that the team would go to training camp with four quarterbacks on its roster. On Saturday afternoon, Colbert & Co. made good on that promise by selecting South Dakota State quarterback Chris Oladokun (pronounced oh-luh-DOH-kin) in the seventh round of the 2022 NFL Draft (No. 241 overall).

According to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, it’s the first time the Steelers have selected two quarterbacks in the same draft since 1968, when the team took Danny Holman and Kim King. (The draft lasted 17 rounds at the time; Holman was an eighth-round pick out of San Jose State while King was an 11th-round selection out of Georgia Tech).

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Chris Oladokun Started Games at 3 Different Schools

Oladokun — a Tampa native who is listed at 6-foot-1 and 213 pounds by — comes to the Steelers after having played for three different universities, namely South Florida, Samford University (which produced former Steelers quarterback Devlin ‘Duck’ Hodges) and South Dakota State.

In late March, Oladokun was described as a fast-rising draft prospect by Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network — fast-rising in the sense that there was a good chance he’d be drafted, as opposed to coming into the league as an undrafted free agent. He has also been called a “huge sleeper pick,” albeit “one who possesses NFL arm talent and an expedited release,” according to analyst Lance Zierlein.

Meanwhile, Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus has called Oladokun an “interesting under-the-radar QB prospect,” and one NFC coach told Tom Pelissero of NFL Network that “he’s got a chance. There’s something to him. He’s got traits that might translate” (to the NFL).

Also of note, Oladokun has unusually small hands by NFL quarterback standards, just like Steelers first-round pick Kenny Pickett, who Pittsburgh selected No. 20 overall. According to Pelissero, Oladokun’s hands measure just 8 7/8-inches, this as compared to Pickett’s, who measured at 8 5/8-inches at Pitt’s Pro Day.

But that didn’t deter the Steelers, who showed interest in Oladokun throughout the pre-draft process. Most notably, on March 23, 2022, college scouting coordinator Phil Kreidler and quality control coach Matt Tomsho traveled to South Dakota to attend his Pro Day.

Never mind that Oladokun already has some familiarity with one of Pittsburgh’s starting wide receivers. Per Brian Batko of PGSports Now, Oladokun said he “works out with Diontae Johnson and played against him in high school.”

Chris Oladokun is Pittsburgh’s No. 4 QB — For Now

Oladokun begins his NFL journey as the team’s No. 4 quarterback, but if he shows enough promise, his presence could allow the Steelers to trade (or release) veteran backup Mason Rudolph and save his $3 million salary, part of the one-year contract extension Rudolph signed in April 2021. That’s why Rudolph’s spot on the team may now be “in jeopardy,” as Ed Bouchette of The Athletic put it.

Shortly after being drafted, Oladokun took to Twitter to thank the Steelers for giving him an opportunity and to introduce himself to Steelers Nation:

The Steelers are expected to hold a rookie minicamp within the next week or two, one that will be completed before the first set of OTAs, which are scheduled to begin on May 24.

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