Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Recently, Kyle Rudolph was asked who he thought was the NFL’s top tight end.
His answer: “Me,” according to the Pioneer Press.
“There’s a ton of talented tight ends in our game,” Rudolph said to the reporter Chris Tomasson. “You have guys that play at a high level, like Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, Jason Witten and Vernon Davis. But I would put myself up there with them.”
In his three seasons in the league, Rudolph has already reached the Pro Bowl and has been named its MVP. There’s no doubt he has the potential to back up his words.
A big factor that is working in Rudolph’s favor this season is the presence of offensive coordinator Norv Turner. Turner turned Jordan Cameron into one of the NFL’s best red zone targets last season, and he is also known for helping Antonio Gates blossom into a star.
Of course, if Rudolph means that he belongs in the conversation for the NFL’s best tight end based just off of his first three seasons, it’s fair to say that might be a stretch.
He has the potential to get into that conversation, but he’ll have to prove himself to the new offensive coordinator first.
In addition to talking about his place among NFL tight ends, Rudolph touched on his rehab process and his contract situation. Rudolph’s season was cut short last year with a foot injury.
“My foot is doing well, and I’m really looking forward to a bounce-back campaign,” he said to the Pioneer Press. “I’ve been training all winter and haven’t had any problems. I’ve been drinking a lot of milk to make sure it heals well.”
Rudolph is slated to become a free agent after the 2014 season, but both he and the team hope he never gets close to the market. Rudolph told the Pioneer Press he hopes to sign an extension sometime this summer.
Those words must have been music to Rick Spielman’s ears. Rudolph’s value is the lowest it could possibly be right now with him coming off of an injury. When he fits the field in 2014, signs point to a breakout campaign, which means he could get more expensive if he or the team decides to wait. The Vikings have the cap room to extend Rudolph easily if they make it a priority.
Spielman’s best pick in the 2011 draft was a young tight end from Notre Dame. Now it’s time to lock him up before he makes his words reality on the field.