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.”
Tags: 2011 NFL Draft, Jeff Dugan, Jim Kleinsasser, Kyle Rudolph, Rick Spielman, Visanthe Shiancoe
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