2011 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame

I bet you saw this one coming a mile away. Or at least since Monday evening when I posted about SB Nation giving Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph to the New York Giants in their latest mock draft.

Yep, Rudolph will be the subject of today's 2011 NFL Draft prospect profile.

Since the idea of taking Rudolph with the 19th overall pick came up on Monday I have been investigating the Notre Dame junior, and thinking a lot about the tight end in the Giants offense. I have always loved Kevin Boss' toughness, his hands and his willingness to be a blocker. Boss, though, has never been able to really get off the line of scrimmage and separate well enough to become a big-time threat. Travis Beckum might still find a role, but not as a traditional tight end.

The New England Patriots showed in 2010 how you can build a passing attack around the tight ends, and it is a good model. Head coach Tom Coughlin and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride have always thought very traditionally about the tight end position, and it might be time to re-examine that philosophy. Of course, if you are going to do that you have to have a player you truly believe should be a focal point of your offense. The Giants, obviously, don't believe they have had that.

Rudolph might just be that kind of player.

The full scouting reports are below, but here are a couple of the things mentioned in those reports:

  • " ... nearly impossible to stop when defenders try to get physical with him because his hands are simply too strong, as he can disengage and separate at the blink of an eye."
  • "Runs like a receiver, stretching the field vertically and pressing safeties and linebackers before stopping on square-ins. Lines up with his hand down, in the slot and in the backfield. Often used on short outs to move the chains. ... Tough matchup down the seam."

Think about the Giants offense. Historically, trouble in the red zone. In 2010, trouble on third down. Boss dropped 11 passes, 16.6 percent of the ones thrown to him. Think the Giants offense wouldn't be more efficient with a tight end who could get open and move the chains consistently, make the tough catch (which Boss can, I know) and be a consistent red zone option? I do. Of course, Rudolph does come with some concerns about his injury history.

Kyle Rudolph
Tight End, Notre Dame (Jr.)
6-foot-6, 265 pounds

Projection: Round 1

Scouting Reports

From the National Football Post:

He possesses great overall size for the position, as he looks like an undersized offensive tackle the way his frame is strapped together. And much like an undersized offensive tackle, he's a long-armed kid with natural flexibility in his lower half and can really sit into a three-point stance and fire off the football. Now, he does look a bit uncomfortable at times in pass protection, as he has a tendency to overextend and lose his balance into blocks. He does an impressive job getting off the line quickly as a run blocker. ...

He's nearly impossible to stop when defenders try to get physical with him because his hands are simply too strong, as he can disengage and separate at the blink of an eye. Plus, he's a better straight-line athlete than his frame would indicate. While he will start to lumber at times trying to run away from a defender in the open field — like any 265-pound receiver — he does have the gear to at least threaten linebackers down the seam. He plays with a mean streak once he gets his hands on the ball and has the power and balance to break a tackle and create after the catch.

Impression: Possesses the size to win as an "on-the-line Y" at the next level in both the run and pass game, and he is a guy who I could see coming in and making an immediate impact from day one and starting in the NFL for a long time.

From Sideline Scouting:

Positives: Athletic... Good size... Good speed... Gets off the LOS quickly... Good short area quickness... Reaches top speed quickly... Can get separation... Runs crisp routes... Gets in and out of breaks quickly and smoothly... Good flexibility, body control and balance... Good receiver... Red zone target... Finds holes in zone coverage... Goes up after the ball... Adjusts to the ball well... Soft hands... Catches the ball away from his body... Physical... Can win jump balls... Can make tough catches... Does not go down easy... Strong stiff arm... Will break some tackles... Comes back toward LOS when plays break down... Good perimeter and second level blocker... Mentally tough... Good teammate... Could be over-drafted due to relatively poor tight end class... Great potential.

Negatives: Could add some muscle mass... Inconsistent concentration... Doesn't appear to play with a mean streak... Durability concerns, missed last three games of 2009 season with shoulder injury and last seven games of 2010 season with hamstring injury... Offseason workouts will ultimately determine draft stock.

From CBS Sports:

Release: Gets off the line well for his size, whether lined up with his hand down or standing up. Gets up the seam in a hurry if unchecked at the line. Flexible enough to run around traffic off the line to get into his route, but must prove he can handle physical NFL linebackers.

Hands: Generally reliable move-the-chains receiver who also makes plays down the field. ... Makes the circus catch in traffic.

Route running: Runs like a receiver, stretching the field vertically and pressing safeties and linebackers before stopping on square-ins. Lines up with his hand down, in the slot and in the backfield. Often used on short outs to move the chains. Gets his head around quickly to see the ball. ... Tough matchup down the seam because of his height and ability to grab passes above his head.

Blocking: Has the size to be an effective in-line blocker at the next level. Capable of firing off the ball to seal defensive ends. Widens his base on the edge, uses long arms to hold off college defenders. Needs a lot of technique work as an open-field blocker.

Intangibles: Solid locker room presence; has the work ethic and intelligence to succeed at the next level.

-- See SB Nation's Mocking The Draft for all your draft needs.

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