The time is coming.

Ben Roethlisberger is 36 years old and nearing the end of an amazing career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers are confident he can continue to be a top-level franchise quarterback for them, but they also know they eventually have to replace him.

‘(Roethlisberger) wants to play for three more years, we think he can play for three more years’

That was why, after trading a seventh-round pick in the NFL Draft to the Seattle Seahawks last Friday night, they moved up in the third round to select the QB they hope will eventually replace Roethlisberger: Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph.

“He wants to play for three more years, we think he can play for three more years, but we also know that if he is playing good for three more years, we’re probably never going to be at that 11th pick if he’s playing like he is,” Colbert told Bob Papa and Ross Tucker on The Opening Drive. “So how are we ever going to replace him?

‘A guy like Mason Rudolph isn’t going to be available very often’

“This was an unusual draft class. I mean, there was some top quarterbacks and we certainly felt that Mason was amongst that group for sure. … So we didn’t take him with the first pick or the second pick even. We talked about it, but the immediate player, like (Oklahoma State receiver) James Washington (in the second round), can help us now, whereas we had to take and look for the future and a guy like Mason Rudolph isn’t going to be available very often. So that might be a guy that in 2019 you may have been looking at him at 28, but this year he was available to us in the third round.”

For the Steelers, selecting Rudolph was a no-brainer. Colbert and the rest of the team’s player-personnel department have studied him closely enough to know what sort of potential he possesses.

‘Certainly we didn’t think he would make it until the third’

“It was a very easy pick, because we think at some point he can be a productive starting, winning quarterback. … And certainly we didn’t think he would make it until the third,” Colbert said. “Until he started to slip and we just said, ‘Look, let’s take the chance that he’ll make it to us in three.’ And then, we got into that range, we found Seattle was willing to take a seventh-round; we had two sevens. So it was like, ‘Let’s just make sure we get this, because it’s really opening up the way we hoped it would. So let’s not take any further chances when Seattle was willing to do the trade up two spots for a seventh-rounder.

“We’ve seen him play, really, for the last two years. We’ve been scouting the young man and every time we’ve watched him play, he’s always done well, so we’re excited about it.”

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