Optimism for 2017 began last December, before the Cowboys trounced Pac-12 darling Colorado in last year’s Alamo Bowl. And when Mason Rudolph and James Washington announced their intentions to return for their senior seasons, Oklahoma State was automatically a Big 12 contender.The buzz surrounding the duo — and the program — has only gotten louder. The NFL Draft they both decided to sit out of, became a QB-picking frenzy. Several signal callers shot up team’s boards and were picked higher than expected including Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes. No. 2 pick Mitch Trubisky had comparable stats to Rudolph in his one year at the helm of North Carolina. Who knows where the South Carolina native would have been picked?AdChoices广告For Rudolph, that may be a moot point anyway.“If I’d have gotten a first-round grade, I would have stayed,” said Rudolph during Big 12 Media Days. Even with a first-round grade? “I think so. I don’t know if I was ready at that point.”If he was not ready this summer, another year should do the trick. At least, that’s the thinking at Bleacher Report, who named Rudolph one of 13 upcoming juniors and seniors tabbed as being the potential No. 1 NFL Draft pick. The group is ranked only by alphabetic order. Here’s what they had to say about Rudolph:Mason Rudolph, who could’ve garnered first-round attention in 2017, has consistently improved at Oklahoma State.After a successful 2015 campaign despite ceding short-yardage work to J.W. Walsh, Rudolph efficiently torched defenses last season. He posted a 63.4 completion percentage with 28 touchdowns and only four interceptions and chipped in six scores on the ground.The 6’5″, 230-pound Rudolph seemingly checks all the scouting boxes (height, velocity, touch, progressions), so another productive year should push the gunslinger closer to the top of draft boards. [Bleacher Report]No. 1 would be something. He would be only the second Cowboy to go with first-overall pick. Bob Fenimore was No. 1 exactly 70 years ago. OSU has had just eight top-10 picks in school history.But Rudolph is not worried about making that type of history, at least not yet. His mind is on another second: Winning his school’s second Big 12 title.“It would mean a lot,” he said “I think with our school, Oklahoma State, only being there one time, it would mean a lot. Our team would go down in history. It would be something to always come back for and remember.”“I want to leave a legacy here at Oklahoma State,” Rudolph said. “I want to be able to enjoy my senior season and then attack the NFL whenever that comes my way.” While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.