Rudolph a pick that stays true to draft board

The Vikings had plenty of other needs, but they found too much value in tight end Kyle Rudolph, even with trade offers on the line. Vikings VP Rick Spielman talked about what Rudolph brings to the offense and why they chose him.

When it comes to talent evaluation, there is a rarely a unanimous opinion on the value of prospects. Some scouts will favor a particular player, while others will see the upside as being greater with other prospects. For example, there were widely divided opinions on the deep and talented defensive end class in the 2011 draft. A case could be made for taking a half dozen different DEs as the first one off the board.

However, when it came to tight ends, there was consensus as to who the top NFL prospect was – Notre Dame's Kyle Rudolph. Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman agreed. Spielman has gone on record numerous times saying the Vikings were looking to get their lost third-round pick from the Randy Moss trade back, but, despite getting some calls to trade out of the No. 43 spot and get more ammunition for the later rounds, there was no hesitation in saying "no" to trade offers. They had the guy they wanted in their sites and weren't going to let him go.

"We looked at some some possibilities of trading down, but when you have a player of that caliber fall to you, it's just like, ‘How can you not take this guy?'" Spielman said. "We decided that was one of the guys we felt you couldn't normally get where we got him."

Spielman said that, if not for a devastating injury suffered by Rudolph in which his hamstring literally tore off the bone and had to be surgically repaired, he would have been a first-round selection. However, despite getting a full clearance from the Vikings medical staff and the staffs of several other teams, he remained on the board until the 43rd pick, where the Vikings felt he was long overdue. He stood alone with his draft grade and Spielman said the durability questions raised by some draft analysts didn't factor into their thinking.

"We had no issues with him medically after he was cleared by our doctors," Spielman said. "When he fell to us, it was too good of a player to pass up. We felt that he has a lot of unique skills as a tight end. We are going to stay true to our (draft) board and that was a situation where there was a player that, normally if he didn't have that hamstring injury, you wouldn't even have a shot to get. We feel we got great value where we got Kyle."

Rudolph's appeal to the Vikings is that he can do a lot of things well, foremost of those being getting open and catching passes. With a new offense being installed by Bill Musgrave, who has a long history of incorporating tight ends heavily in his offensive scheme, Rudolph seemed like a glove fit.

"He has a lot of different skill sets," Spielman said. "They have split him out wide, you can use him as an (H-back), you can put him on the line of scrimmage. He's going to develop into a solid tight end in this league. The most unique thing about him right now is ability to catch the ball and his route-running ability and he'll develop as a blocker as we go along. The skill set there, it's hard to find guys like that."

The pick seemed to clarify that the Vikings are sticking to their draft board when it comes to talent, or at least did in the second round. The team currently has three tight ends on their roster, but all of them are in the final year of their current contracts. While Spielman declined to say that was a factor, he said that Rudolph's talent was worthy of a selection regardless of position depth.

"I know we have three tight ends 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. We 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."

Despite being adamant that the Vikings would make a push to get back into the third round, they found that teams made offers they could easily refuse. When push came to shove, despite needs on both lines, elite talent at the top tight end prospect won the day for Rudolph.

"All of the sudden our pick got very hot," Spielman said. "But, unless it was a deal that was totally going to blow us out of the water, we weren't going to move out when he fell to us."

A day after the Vikings surprised some by taking QB Christian Ponder, they spent Friday giving him a weapon they expect will be one of his go-to targets for years to come – one almost universally graded out as the top tight end in the draft class of 2011.


John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.



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\r\n\r\n","mobileBody":" When it comes to talent evaluation, there is a rarely a unanimous opinion on the value of prospects. Some scouts will favor a particular player, while others will see the upside as being greater with other prospects. For example, there were widely divided opinions on the deep and talented defensive end class in the 2011 draft. A case could be made for taking a half dozen different DEs as the first one off the board. However, when it came to tight ends, there was consensus as to who the top NFL prospect was – Notre Dame's Kyle Rudolph. Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman agreed. Spielman has gone on record numerous times saying the Vikings were looking to get their lost third-round pick from the Randy Moss trade back, but, despite getting some calls to trade out of the No. 43 spot and get more ammunition for the later rounds, there was no hesitation in saying \"no\" to trade offers. They had the guy they wanted in their sites and weren't going to let him go. \"We looked at some some possibilities of trading down, but when you have a player of that caliber fall to you, it's just like, ‘How can you not take this guy?'\" Spielman said. \"We decided that was one of the guys we felt you couldn't normally get where we got him.\" Spielman said that, if not for a devastating injury suffered by Rudolph in which his hamstring literally tore off the bone and had to be surgically repaired, he would have been a first-round selection. However, despite getting a full clearance from the Vikings medical staff and the staffs of several other teams, he remained on the board until the 43rd pick, where the Vikings felt he was long overdue. He stood alone with his draft grade and Spielman said the durability questions raised by some draft analysts didn't factor into their thinking. \"We had no issues with him medically after he was cleared by our doctors,\" Spielman said. \"When he fell to us, it was too good of a player to pass up. We felt that he has a lot of unique skills as a tight end. We are going to stay true to our (draft) board and that was a situation where there was a player that, normally if he didn't have that hamstring injury, you wouldn't even have a shot to get. We feel we got great value where we got Kyle.\" Rudolph's appeal to the Vikings is that he can do a lot of things well, foremost of those being getting open and catching passes. With a new offense being installed by Bill Musgrave, who has a long history of incorporating tight ends heavily in his offensive scheme, Rudolph seemed like a glove fit. \"He has a lot of different skill sets,\" Spielman said. \"They have split him out wide, you can use him as an (H-back), you can put him on the line of scrimmage. He's going to develop into a solid tight end in this league. The most unique thing about him right now is ability to catch the ball and his route-running ability and he'll develop as a blocker as we go along. The skill set there, it's hard to find guys like that.\" The pick seemed to clarify that the Vikings are sticking to their draft board when it comes to talent, or at least did in the second round. The team currently has three tight ends on their roster, but all of them are in the final year of their current contracts. While Spielman declined to say that was a factor, he said that Rudolph's talent was worthy of a selection regardless of position depth. \"I know we have three tight ends 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. We 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.\" Despite being adamant that the Vikings would make a push to get back into the third round, they found that teams made offers they could easily refuse. When push came to shove, despite needs on both lines, elite talent at the top tight end prospect won the day for Rudolph. \"All of the sudden our pick got very hot,\" Spielman said. \"But, unless it was a deal that was totally going to blow us out of the water, we weren't going to move out when he fell to us.\" A day after the Vikings surprised some by taking QB Christian Ponder, they spent Friday giving him a weapon they expect will be one of his go-to targets for years to come – one almost universally graded out as the top tight end in the draft class of 2011. 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