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Rudolph “Too Good To Pass Up” For Vikings

Posted by Mike Wobschall on April 29, 2011 – 5:52 pm

The Vikings used the 43rd pick in the 2011 NFL Draft to grab the #1 player at his position – TE Kyle Rudolph of Notre Dame. Considered a 1st-round prospect by most, Rudolph slipped into the 2nd round but he didn’t slip past the Vikings.

The only reason one can muster for his slight slide into the 2nd round is a medical issue, as he missed the last 7 games of the 2010 season because of hamstring injury that required surgery. The Vikings clearly felt comfortable with Rudolph’s medical report and whoever the Vikings QB will be in 2011 will feel more comfortable with Rudolph on the field.

“We had no issues with him medically after he was cleared by our doctors,” Vikings VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman explained. “When he fell to us, it was too good of a player to pass up. We feel he has a lot of unique skills as a tight end and we’re going to stay true to our board. That was a situation where there was a player that normally I don’t think if he had that hamstring injury you would’ve even had a chance to get. We feel we got great value where we got Kyle.”

Many will compare Rudolph to New England’s Rob Gronkowski, as both have a combination of great size, strength and speed, along with tremendous ball skills. Despite playing in just 29 games for the Irish, Rudolph ranks 4th all-time among Notre Dame TEs with 90 receptions for 1,032 yards. His career-best 33 catches during his sophomore campaign placed 7th among TEs on the school’s season-record chart.

“He has a lot of different skill sets,” Spielman explained. “They’ve split him out wide. They’ve put him at the H. They put him on the line of scrimmage. He’s going to develop into a solid starting tight end in this league.”

At first glance, TE doesn’t appear to be a need for the Vikings. Visanthe Shiancoe is a solid starter and both Jeff Dugan and Jim Kleinsasser are effective in their roles. But Spielman says the Vikings just couldn’t pass on Rudolph and they’ll figure out the roster situation at a later point.

“This was a situation where, I know we have three tight ends that are on our roster right now, but when you have a player like that it’s just too good to pass up,” Spielman said. “I know we’ll sort it all out as we get there. But we just wanted to stay true to our board and he was by far the highest player on our board at this time and we weren’t going to pass him up.”


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Vikings Take Notre Dame TE Kyle Rudolph In 2nd Round

Posted by Ryan Cardinal on April 29, 2011 – 4:58 pm

With their second round pick, the Vikings selected Notre Dame TE Kyle Rudolph.  We’ll have more info on him posted soon, including reaction from Rick Spielman, Vikings VP of Player Personnel.

Stay tuned to vikings.com’s Draft Central section for full coverage on the Vikings first round pick, QB Christian Ponder, and all picks moving forward into the weekend.


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5 Names To Watch For The Vikings In Round 2

Posted by Mike Wobschall on April 29, 2011 – 4:00 pm

Today’s been such a “Welcome to Minnesota Christian Ponder” day that it’s easy to forget there are 2 more rounds of the 2011 NFL Draft tonight. At this time, the Vikings have the 11th pick of the 2nd round (#43 overall) and no choice in the 3rd round.

The 2nd round begins at 5:00 p.m. CT, so we have some time to go over a few names to watch as the Vikings pick draws closer. The names are listed in alphabetical order. Let us know what you think the Vikings should do in Round 2.

DE Da’Quan Bowers, DL Jarvis Jenkins
I’m kind of cheating here by including two names in one entry, but both of these guys deserve a brief mention. Bowers was once thought to be the best player in this draft, but then concerns emerged about a knee injury that some believe could be degenerative. Yikes. That’s why he slid out of the 1st round. Think about it: a player once considered the best player in the class is still there in Round 2.

As for Jenkins, he measures in at 6-4, 310 pounds and is a bit of a tweener. He’s not a NT in the traditional sense, so he might be a good DT in the Vikings 4-3 scheme. But he’s also apparently not a player you’d keep in the game on obvious passing downs. Given that limitation, maybe the 2nd round is too early for him. But keep an eye on Jenkins, the Vikings might be.

DT Kenrick Ellis
A big, space-clogging DT out of Hampton, Ellis stands at 6-5, 346 pounds and would occupy one of two DT spots in the middle of the Vikings line. Scouts say he has excellent quickness for his size, a trait that made Pat Williams so effective for the Vikings over the last several seasons. With Pat Williams unlikely to return in 2011 and with Kevin Williams facing the possibility of a 4-game suspension to begin the season, DT became a position of need for the Vikings. I have confidence in Letroy Guion in this role, but there’s nothing wrong with adding a body like Ellis as developmental and potentially impactful run-stuffer.

DT Stephen Paea
Although he doesn’t have the same size, Paea (6-1, 303 pounds) can be just as effective on the interior of an NFL defensive line. He is also a DT, but I’m not sure he’d play the same DT spot as Ellis. Regardless, Paea made waves at the Combine when he put up an incredible 49 reps of the 225-pound bench. As you can guess, Paea’s strength is as a run-stuffer. He uses his hands well, as a good body for taking advantage of leverage and he’s active in pursuit. Paea is not a great pass rusher, so that’s an area of his game that needs improvement.

TE Kyle Rudolph
I thought Rudolph would go in the 1st round, but he fell out of the top 32 spots and now a team with a need for a pass-catcher might be in luck. The reason his stock isn’t higher at this point is because he missed much of the 2010 season with a hamstring injury. But he has excellent size (6-6, 259 pounds) and is fast. Run blocking is supposedly a weakness, but if you’re taking Rudolph you’re not taking him to block; you’re taking him to stretch the seam and score red zone TDs.

CB Aaron Williams
This is my favorite player still on the board. Williams stands at 6-0, 200 pounds and might some day be moved to safety. But that’s okay for the Vikings because they could use him at either spot eventually. Williams is known as an aggressive player who likes to come up in run support. He’s not a terrific player “on an island” in coverage, but he can play CB in the nickel and his physicality and willingness to play near the line of scrimmage might make him an effective safety in the NFL some day. He blocked 5 punts during his career and he ran a 4.56 time in the 40-yard dash.


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Audio: Listen To Ponder’s KFAN Interview From Friday Morning

Posted by Ryan Cardinal on April 29, 2011 – 12:31 pm

New Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder joined the voice of the Vikings, Paul Allen, on AM-1130 KFAN during PA’s show on Friday morning.  To download / listen to that interview, click here.


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Welcoming Christian Ponder To Minnesota In Style

Posted by Mike Wobschall on April 29, 2011 – 11:37 am

On Thursday morning I woke up 14 hours before the start of the 2011 NFL Draft unsure of whom the Vikings would select with their 1st-round pick. Just a few hours into Friday morning, though, I not only knew who the Vikings selected at #12, I also met him at the airport and welcomed him to Minnesota while riding back to Winter Park.

Ponder and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave

Yes, Vikings Entertainment Network, with the help of Paul Martin and the Vikings operations staff, was there to swoop Ponder up at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport late Friday morning and deliver him to Winter Park, where the QB met with the Vikings coaching and personnel staff. VEN Videographer Jordan Struck was there to record all the action, and we’ll have an entertaining and informative piece about Ponder up on the site momentarily.

Ponder arrived right on time at MSP and was promptly met by representatives from Brooks Brothers, so he could try on a suit coat and tie for his press conference later today. After a quick fitting and the selection of a purple and white-striped tie, Ponder and the VEN clan headed back to the limo for a ride back to Winter Park.

Inside the limo on the way back, we had a chat with Ponder about his time at Florida State, the draft-day experience and phone conversations with Frazier and Spielman, his thoughts on living in Minnesota, why he’s so driven to do well in school and pursue advanced education, what charities he wants to support while with the Vikings and some of his other interests and hobbies.

Ponder even took the time to call in to AM 1130 KFAN and join Paul Allen’s 9-noon radio show. It was a great trip with Ponder and I could clearly see that he’ll be a good fit in Minnesota. He never once seemed impatient with the suit fitting or with having to wear a microphone for the VEN piece. He was smiling a lot and was enthusiastic about being in Minnesota. He wasn’t checking his cell phone constantly and there were no awkward silences in the car. He was thoroughly happy to be chosen by the Vikings and I think he’s going to win a lot of fans over very quickly.

Ponder with Frazier and Spielman

Be sure to check back frequently to vikings.com today because we’re going to carry Ponder’s press conference live. We’re also going to have a sit-down interview with Ponder on vikings.com later today as well as comprehensive coverage of the 2nd and 3rd rounds of the 2011 NFL Draft.

Also, don’t forget to look for the “Meet Christian Ponder” piece that Jordan and the rest of the VEN video guys are working on right now.


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What Are The Pundits Saying About Ponder?

Posted by cjsiewert on April 29, 2011 – 8:31 am

Now that we’ve had a night to soak in all of yesterday’s 1st-round selections, let’s take a look at what draft pundits around the web are saying about the Vikings 12th overall pick, Florida State QB Christian Ponder.

ESPN.com – Todd McShay
“If he can stay healthy, which was a problem last year, you have quarterback that’s ready to play now, has great football intelligence and is a throw-back type of quarterback. He’s tough, he will get out of the pocket and make some throws on the run and he can be very accurate throwing short to intermediate. He doesn’t have the great arm strength but they don’t need that in this West Coast-style offense.”

ESPN.com (NFC North Blog) – Kevin Seifert
“So what are they getting in Ponder? It won’t be the mobility of Cam Newton or Locker, and Ponder isn’t as smooth of a passer as Gabbert. But the Vikings undoubtedly got one of the smartest quarterbacks in the draft, one who scored a 37 on his Wonderlic test and who graduated from Florida State in 2 1/2 years. He completed his MBA in May 2010 and spent last season working on a second graduate degree in sports management.”

NFL.com – Mike Mayock
“(VP of player personnel) Rick Spielman is tied at the hip with this young quarterback. Man, he’s betting an awful lot on a kid that most thought would go between 25 and 40.”

CBSsports.com – Pete Prisco
“I love this pick. I think he will be the best in this class. Smart. Tough. Sees the field. Great move, Vikings.”

NationalFootballPost.com – Matt Bowen
“I do see Ponder developing into a starting QB in this league; however, there was plenty of defensive line talent (Fairley, Quinn, Kerrigan, Jordan, etc.) sitting by the phone at No.12.”

ProFootballWeekly.com – Nolan Nawrocki
“Rick Spielman and coach Leslie Frazier desperately needed a new franchise quarterback with Brett Favre moving on. Ponder is a great fit for Bill Musgrave’s West Coast offense. A strong Senior Bowl and pro-day workouts elevated his draft stock. The biggest challenge for Ponder could be staying healthy, having been snake bitten by injuries in college.”

SI.com – Peter King
“Christian Ponder is, quite simply, the classic example of a quarterback who was overpicked in the first round, the way we’d heard so many of them would be. But the Vikings obviously figured they liked Locker and Ponder, and they couldn’t trade down to gather currency in rounds two or three. So they sat at 12 and picked a developmental quarterback they felt they had to have.”

And as for Mr. Ponder himself – @cponder7: “It’s great to be a MINNESOTA VIKING!!!!!!!!”


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