Kyle Rudolph | Minnesota Vikings | Tight End
Height: 6’6″ | Weight: 265
Date of Birth: 11/9/1989 (27)
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
College: Notre Dame
Draft: 2011, Round 2, Pick 43
Contract: 6 years, $37.46 million, through 2019
Kyle Rudolph spent the majority of his career as a role player. A tight end in a run-first offense, with subpar quarterback play. When your first job is to set up an edge block for Adrian Peterson, you don’t get very many opportunities to catch the football. From 2011 to 2015, Rudolph never eclipsed 500 yards receiving in a season, but time marches on, and offenses change.
2016 changed everything for Rudolph, and the entire Vikings offense. In August, Teddy Bridgewater went down for the season, and the Vikings traded for veteran QB Sam Bradford prior to the start of the season. This, coupled with injuries to Adrian Peterson and several offensive linemen, made it necessary for a short passing game focused on wide receiver Stefon Diggs and Rudolph.
The Vikings offense wasn’t incredible, but it was efficient. Bradford set a new NFL record for completion percentage in a season (71.6%), in no small part to Rudolph’s reliability as a pass catcher. He ran routes on nearly half of his snaps last season, and was targeted on about a quarter of those routes. He finished the season with 83 catches, 30 more than his previous best, 840 yards, and 7 touchdowns. His best statistical season to date.
2017 will be interesting as Bridgewater seems primed to return, however Bradford isn’t going to give up the starting job without a fight. Rudolph’s productivity could greatly depend on who wins that battle. I think another 80 catches and 800 yards is achievable for Rudolph this season, he has the talent, it’s a matter of what Minnesota chooses to do with their offense.
Awards and Accolades:
1x Pro Bowl (2012)
1x PFF All-Rookie Team (2011)
Honorable Mentions: Delanie Walker, Jason Witten