Lately, Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph has seen a lot of love from sportswriters. There’s a good reason for that. Not only is Rudolph tall, athletic and a superstar when healthy, but he has a new offensive coordinator that loves to include a lot of plays for tight ends to get the ball.
Recently, I wrote an article about 3 Minnesota Vikings players who are due for breakout years and included Kyle Rudolph. NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks one-upped me and put Rudolph his his list of five players who will benefit from having new offensive coordinators.
It’s not a coincidence that Jordan Cameron, Antonio Gates and Jay Novacek all enjoyed Pro Bowl seasons under Norv Turner. The Vikings’ new offensive coordinator loves to feature the tight end prominently in a vertical passing game. Simply consider the numbers. During the six seasons Gates played for Turner in San Diego, the tight end recorded 377 receptions for 4,943 yards and 49 touchdowns. Novacek’s numbers in three seasons with Turner as his offensive coordinator: 171 receptions for 1,739 yards and 11 scores. (Remember, that was a different era — those numbers are legit.) And with Turner calling plays in Cleveland last season, Cameron caught 80 passes for 917 yards and seven touchdowns.
Thus, it’s reasonable to expect Rudolph will be a big part of the Vikings’ game plan as the primary target between the hashes. Checking in at 6-foot-6 and 258 pounds with long arms and big mitts, Rudolph is a masterful post-up player with a feel for creating space over the middle through physicality and toughness. Additionally, he is a viable red-zone target with a knack for working free near the end line on seams, post routes and corners. With each of those concepts featured heavily in Turner’s scheme, Rudolph definitely should set career-best marks this season.
That is a lot of love for both Kyle Rudolph and new Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner, but it is hard to disagree with anything that Brooks wrote in this article. If he can stay healthy, Rudolph could be in line for double digit touchdowns and over 1,000 yards receiving for the first time in his career.
The former Pro Bowl MVP has some pretty high expectations going into this year. Can he deliver anywhere near the kind of production that folks believe he is capable of this year?