Vikings No. 2 pick scouting report: TE Kyle Rudolph, Notre Dame

Posted April 29, 2011 @ 8:54 p.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

The Vikings made a bit of a surprise pick in Round Two by taking Notre Dame TE Kyle Rudolph, but there's little questioning his talent. Before an injury-plagued senior season, Rudolph was projected by many as a possible first-round pick. Here's what PFW's Nolan Nawrocki had to say about Rudolph in PFW's 2011 Draft Preview:

Notes: Parade All-American and consensus top-rated tight end recruit in the country coming out of Cincinnati who also starred as a basketball player. Committed to the Irish and then-head coach Charlie Weis in 2008, when he was thrust into the lineup and started all 13 games, totaling 29 receptions for 340 yards (11.7-yard average) and two touchdowns. Started 9-of-10 games in which he played in '09 and caught 33-364-3 (11.0). Separated his left shoulder against Navy and missed two games (did not start against Stanford) before having surgery in mid-December. Had another injury-filled season in '10, starting the first six games and recording 28-328-3 (11.7). Had season-ending surgery Oct. 15 after tearing two tendons off the bone in his right hamstring vs. Pittsburgh. Had aggravated the injury prior to the season and continued to gut it out. Did not work out at the Combine.

Positives: Outstanding intangibles and work ethic - does all the extras and is a coach's dream. Extremely tough mentally and physically and will play through pain as he did all of his junior season. Functional wall-off blocker with enough grit and toughness to handle matching up against size. Highly competitive and instinctive - has a knack for finding open areas in coverage and settling. Will go up high to pluck it and looks graceful adjusting in the air and snagging it outside his frame. Can be a mismatch piece in the red zone. Versatile and can line up flexed, in-line or on the move and fits as an "F" or a "Y."

Negatives: Lacks elite speed to threaten the seams and escape from man coverage. Is not a strong, physical, line-of-scrimmage blocker and can improve his functional base-playing strength. Average career production. Does not create in the open field or make defenders miss and goes down readily on contact. Hamstring needs to be evaluated closely.

Summary: Played through a hamstring injury all of his junior season, often looking like he was pulling a wagon off the line, and evaluators need to revisit 2009 tape to better appreciate what he truly can do. Has the athletic ability, ball skills, toughness and intangibles to become an every-down performer and enter a starting lineup readily from Day One. Medical evaluations could affect his draft status.

NFL projection: Top-50 pick.