In the Film Room

Bryan Driskell is a former starting college quarterback, college coach, and college recruiting coordinator. We've asked Bryan to look at a number of Notre Dame's top targets, and to give us his evaluation of their potential as a college player. Here are his thoughts on tight end Kyle Rudolph.

This is a great year nationally for the tight end position. I believe having a talented tight end is a big boost for any offense. Whether it's a pro-style offense, the spread offense, or the option offense, a good tight end adds a big dimension to your offense. You won't find any better than Kyle Rudolph and Blake Ayles.

Kyle Rudolph is an impressive looking prospect. His great height is obvious from the first clip you see. If he really is 235 pounds, which is what he's listed as by Scout.com, then he's going to be able to carry quite a bit more weight. He has a relatively thin looking frame, very similar to John Carlson coming out of high school. I'd actually say that Kyle looks a little bigger on film than did John.

The comparisons to John Carlson don't end at their height and frame. Kyle is a very similar football player to John Carlson. For such a tall kid, Rudolph possesses very good quickness and speed. You will see the 6-foot-6 tight end lined up in the slot and out wide quite a bit. He looks very natural as a wide receiver. As we've seen at ND the last two years, Coach Weis loves to move his tight ends around. If Kyle comes to ND he'll continue that tradition. At the snap Rudolph gets off the ball with good quickness, speed, and showed a very good ability to beat attempts to either jam or re-route him.

Once the ball is in the air you will see what separates Kyle Rudolph from just about every other tight end in the country. Not only does he have great size and athleticism, but also outstanding ball skills. He has great hands, catches the ball smoothly, and is able to go up and make a play on a jump ball. It's a great asset to have a tight end that can do a little something after he makes the catch----Rudolph is that kind of athlete. I'm not saying he's going to shake his way to the end zone, but he has the speed, quickness, and instincts to be able to make some plays after the catch.

The Cincinnati, Ohio native needs work as a route runner. He has the foot quickness and ability to be a good route runner, but right now he isn't one. Rudolph isn't sharp as a route runner. He rounds off almost everything. He isn't crisp out of his breaks. This causes him to drift. He will need to improve in this area. What I really liked was Kyle's ability to find the hole in the defense. He knew when to keep working to find the open zone, and he knew when to throttle down and not leave an open zone. With his size, speed, quickness, hands, ball skills, and ability to adjust to coverage, if he can simply improve his route technique, he is going to be impossible to contain.

Right now Rudolph is a solid blocker. He isn't a finished product while blocking, but he's solid. He will fight you, which I like. He isn't afraid to mix it up. He gives great effort as a run blocker. Rudolph also has good timing and a solid first step at the snap. Kyle will need to use his hands better at the snap. At times he will lunge out a bit while engaged with a defender. In college he will simply get tossed aside in this situation. Those are both technique issues, which can always be improved. Additional strength will obviously be required in order for him to improve as a blocker, but how many juniors in high school don't need additional strength?

There is only one tight end nationally with as much upside as Kyle Rudolph, and that is Blake Ayles. They are absolutely my two top tight ends. Rudolph is the total package. He has great size, athleticism, is an elite pass catcher, and will fight in the trenches. If you could design the perfect tight end for the Notre Dame offense, you'd have a hard time coming up with someone better than Kyle Rudolph.

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