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Monday, June 20, 2011

Did Kyle Rudolph Make The Right Decision?

Way back on December 12th, Subway Alumni Station posted an article concerning why we thought both Michael Floyd and Kyle Rudolph would return for their final season playing football for Notre Dame.  Here it is.  Well of course only Michael made the decision to return.  Rudolph saw his chances for the NFL draft being quite high due to the absence of quality tight ends in the 2011 class and grabbed the brass ring. 
So has the brass ring turned out to be a fresh cow pie?

Rudolph went in the draft about where expected/projected, 11th in the second round, 43 overall.  What was unexpected was the team – the Minnesota Vikings.  That got a lot of heads to scratching.  Of course, this is the team that played pretty-please to Brett Favre in 2010 and dumped a head coach that decided he was general manager and owner all in one.  One disaster of a year.

The Vikings currently have not one, but three tight ends on roster and of course, that does NOT include Rudolph who has been drafted but unsigned.
31 year old Visanthe Shiancoe (don’t ask me to pronounce his name) started and caught 47 passes, for 530 yards and 2 touchdowns. 

34-year-old Jim Kleinsassor had 17 receptions for 148 yards.

Third string Jeff Dugan who is 30 had 4 catches for 30 yards.  (If I were Jeff and Jim I'd be looking for a full-time job.)
Tight ends were not a favorite target of Viking quarterbacks in 2010.  We here at SAS don’t really follow the Vikings but it appears the opponents backfield were more the intended target in many cases than Viking receivers.  What a new head coach and offensive coordinator will bring to Minneapolis and the offense remains to be seen.

It appears Shiancoe is a respectable TE with some years left in him with a team and league that does not regularly throw in that direction but uses TE’s as blockers.  Anyway, it appears Kyle was too good of a deal to pass up.  Who knows he could become trading fodder.
Anyway, where does this leave Kyle?  He has a playbook and an agent.  He can particpate in private workouts with future team members and continue individual training and fitness.

He cannot negotiate a contract or threaten to boycott a training camp that does not exist. 
No contact with the Viking coaching staff.

No use of training facilities, trainers, or staff.
Kyle cannot fight/compete for a place on the roster or starting position because he has no venue to show his wares.

If the NFL greed mongers come to their senses and salvage the professional football season, it seems likely the rookies are going to be targeted for salary caps of some sort.
Thus, time is running out for Kyle and all the rookies to earn roster positions or even starting slots.

Kyle did not take part in any post-season bowl game, senior bowl, North-South Game, East-West Game because of his injury and surgery.  He passed on the combine in Indianapolis for the same reason.  His ‘try-out’ at Notre Dame went very well and probably solidified his second round pick.  However, he has not been able to show-off for the Vikings.  The clock is ticking. 
On the Viking website, management acknowledges that they have a lease on a summer training facility and the drop-dead date on exercising the lease option is July 18th.  The NFL has a month to come to their senses or the season is lost.  So could be Kyle.  The 2011 crop the TE’s appears to be richer that 2010.  Who knows what will happen to the 2011 draftees.
Kyle Rudolph could be enrolled in summer school at Notre Dame.  Earning a masters degree.  Engaged in the 7-on-7 practices, working with Paul Longo the ND strength guru and pretty much guaranteed the starting TE position.  Maybe an All-American?  Maybe a BCS bid for Notre Dame?  Maybe a first round draft choice in 2013?

Good Luck Kyle.  Go Vikings!  Sack England!
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