Oct 27, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph (82) catches a pass and Green Bay Packers safety Morgan Burnett (42) tackles him in the second quarter at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Packers win 44-31. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Top 25 Vikings of 2014: No. 9 TE Kyle Rudolph

Continuing with the top 10, the very rich man at No. 9…

TE Kyle Rudolph

The Vikings organization has given Kyle Rudolph the ultimate vote of confidence, signing him to a five-year contract extension worth $36.5 million with $19.4 million guaranteed. Will Rudolph’s performance on the field ultimately justify his becoming one of the highest-paid tight ends in the league?

There is reason for optimism. Rudolph has all the physical tools necessary to be a highly productive weapon in the passing game. He has the size, he has enough speed to be a vertical threat, he has great hands. And he has demonstrated his value as a red zone weapon.

With Norv Turner calling the plays and Christian Ponder no longer executing the passes, the belief is that Rudolph can take the next step and become a truly consistent performer week in and week out, with the potential to be explosive at times.

That’s the way the optimists envision it. And that’s certainly what the Vikings are banking on.

No doubt, there will be those who question the wisdom of paying Rudolph like a top-5 tight end when he has yet to put together a top-5-tight-end-type season. It’s Rudolph’s job to quiet the doubters and perform at a level commensurate with the contract he just signed.

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