How good is Kyle Rudolph?
I liked Kyle Rudolph when he broke records in college at Notre Dame and (naturally) I liked him even more after he was drafted by the Vikings in 2011. Kyle stands out when he's on the field with his monster 6'6", 260 pounds frame. Almost identical to Patriot's tight end and NFL's best, Rob Gronkowski, and that's not the only thing they have in common. Both have long arms and huge hands (at exactly 10' 3/4") which they clearly know how to put to good use. As evident by leading the league's tight ends in touchdowns with 11 (Gronkowsi) and 9 (Rudolph) just this past season.
Rudolph and Gronkowski were also both drafted in the second round (Gronk in 2010 at 42, and Rud in 2011 at 43, just one spot after Gronk) and they both have injury questions that caused them to slide in the draft. Gronk is 24 years old and Rudolph is just 23 years old.
Where am I going with this? Well... besides many interesting comparisons to NFL's best tight end who is one of the most dominant players in recent years... imagine if Kyle Rudolph had Tom Brady throwing him the ball. Kyle was 3 TD's away from setting a franchise record last year with Ponder at QB. I truly believe that if you replace Gronkowski on Patriots with Rudolph, Rudolph might as well have the NFL record for TD's by a tight end.
Kyle Rudolph needs two things: more balls thrown to him, but more importantly, how the balls are thrown to him. Throw the ball in the right spot and we have seen time and time again that Rudolph will get the ball. That's his forté! He has superb receiving skills with incredible strong hands combined with excellent size which he effectively use against defenders.
I think the last season's Pro Bowl MVP is a top tight end who unfortunately is being vastly underutilized. Sure, Kyle has already proven that he is an elite red-zone target and he led the NFC tight ends in TD's last year. However, he didn't have impressive number of receptions. I envision that Rudolph can be similar to Jasson Witten moving the chain. If Ponder can improve this year, I think Rudolph will instantly be in the "NFL's elite" conversation.