As Kyle Rudolph prepares for his third NFL season, it’s becoming more and more apparent that the Minnesota Vikings need him to produce like a wide receiver. While Minnesota did improve its receiving corps over the offseason, it’s still not an elite group by any means. The Vikings are going to need a lot of production from the tight end position and most of that responsibility will fall on Rudolph.
In 2012 Rudolph established himself as a great red zone target, but he failed to be impactful anywhere else on the field. Not saying he wasn’t a legitimate threat to catch a pass from anywhere on the field, he just wasn’t a game-changer like he was in goal line situations.
But with another full offseason to work with Christian Ponder, Rudolph figures to progress as a pass-catcher just by virtue of time spend with his QB. He was already one of Ponder’s favorite targets and that will no doubt continue in 2013.
But I believe that beyond targeting Rudolph more frequently this season, the Vikings should also experiment with lining him up in different spots. This is a common tactic implemented by teams with elite tight ends – usually where you’ll see them line up in the slot or in the backfield. The Vikings would have nothing to lose by moving Rudolph into some new positions to utilize his size and ability to go up and get the ball.
Rudolph has all the tools to continue building on his successful 2012 campaign. He’s got the ideal blend of size, speed and pass-catching ability for a modern day tight end, so it’s time that Minnesota makes it a priority to get him the ball anyway they can, each and every week.
Be sure to follow @VikingsRant on Twitter