Rudolph could turn into one of the most productive tight ends the NFL has seen in recent years if he can stay healthy and continue to improve on some of his fundamentals. During the 2010 season, he was on pace to have career-highs in receptions, yards and touchdowns before getting injured and missing the last six games of the season. He has shown glimpses of brilliance, but will need to be more consistent in all facets of his game in order to live up to his potential. With a very well-rounded style of play, Rudolph shouldn’t have too much trouble adapting to and conquering the NFL. His consistency is coachable, so hopes are high. I project him to be a late-first to early-second round pick.
Blocking definitely isn’t Rudolph’s strong suit, but he does show great tenacity and determination when he is asked to slow down defensive linemen. There are some inconsistencies in his ability to recognize and pick up blitzes. He uses his toughness to take on defenders and will fight to the whistle on almost every play. Will need to work on hand placement and getting better leverage on defenders to stop their progress instead of just slowing them down. There will need to be some major improvement in blocking if Rudolph hopes to become an elite tight end in the NFL.
One of the things that makes Rudolph one of the top tight end prospects is his outstanding ability to catch the ball. Instead of using his body to catch the ball, Rudolph extends and uses his hands on almost every reception to bring the ball in cleanly. The ball almost never gets into his frame, and he rarely drops passes. Even does an exceptional job of making the catch when defenders try to roughly separate him from the ball. Uses a mixture of athleticism, ball skills and jumping to make highlight catches while screening defenders away from the ball. Catching is definitely one of the most impressive aspects of his game.
Routes will need some work if Rudolph hopes to make it at the next level. He runs some of his routes very lazily, often rounded off or not run at full speed if he feels that the ball isn’t going to come his way. There needs to be a lot more consistency with the precision of his route running, which will lead to him getting open more often while providing his quarterback with an extra option to throw to. Improvement in this area is more of a matter of effort rather than ability, as Rudolph has more than enough talent and athleticism to run crisp, concise routes on every down. He can get plenty of separation using his strength and great tight end speed, but that will also come down to effort and a willingness to work for everything he gets.
Red Zone Threat
This could be one of Rudolph’s most promising areas in the NFL. He has terrific athleticism to go with great height and hops, which should allow him to go high for jump balls. He works well in tight spaces and knows when to sit in the hole during crossing routes. When he’s crowded or in tight spaces, he can use his strength to fight for positioning as well as to shield defenders from the ball.
Size, Speed, Strength & Agility
Rudolph is an outstanding play-maker who knows what do when the ball is in his hands, due in large part to his rare athleticism. For his size, he has exceptional speed that allows him to outrun defensive linemen and linebackers. In order to be a real threat in the NFL, he will need to add some bulk, so his agility could take a hit. However, if he can add muscle while maintaining his agility and acceleration, he will continue to pose a huge threat for opposing secondaries. One of the speedier tight end prospects of the 2011 NFL Draft. Rudolph is a very strong player that uses this strength to make something out of nothing and tack on extra yardage at the end of a play. He never shies away from a hit and always delivers a blow when taking on a defender. He explodes through arm tackles, allowing himself to pick up large amounts of YAC yardage. He has great strength for blocking defensive lineman, as the thing that hurts him in blocking is his technique rather than power.
His draft stock may suffer a slight decline if he can’t prove that he is at least on the path to full recovery, as he has had numerous injuries during his time at Notre Dame. A shoulder injury kept him out of the last two games of 2009, and then he missed the last six games of the 2010 regular season due to a hamstring injury. His knack for getting injured will raise a few red flags around the NFL, but it shouldn’t keep him from getting drafted in at least the first 40 picks.
There have been no character or intangible concerns for Rudolph to this point. He is a well-respected teammate who is highly regarded in the locker room. Displays great attitude and works hard on and off the field to better himself and his teammates. May sometimes slack off during plays that aren’t designed to go to him or if his team is down big, but for the most part, gives great effort throughout the game and during practices.
There is no lack of toughness when it comes to Rudolph. He has fought through multiple injuries during his career at Notre Dame and played more than a few games while injured. He was never afraid to put his shoulder down to get extra yardage on a play and was always willing to go up high to get a pass regardless of whether he was going to get hit in the process. He is a tough competitor who doesn’t back down and will always go the extra mile for his team when the game is on the line.
When he is on the field, he makes things happen. With the injury in 2010, it was tough for him to show that he was finally becoming the game-breaker at tight end that he was capable of being. Now that he has had time to heal and get stronger, along with extra work once he gets drafted, Rudolph shouldn’t have any trouble living up to the hype of being the number one tight end in the class. He is a bit raw considering he only played in 29 games during his Notre Dame career, so there’s still more potential to be unlocked. He should make whatever team that drafts him much happier and will take a lot of pressure off of their receivers and quarterbacks.
2010: Started first 6 games of the season before season-ending hamstring injury; 28 receptions for 328 yards (11.71 yards per catch), 3 TD
2009: Started 9 of 10 games, missed last two games due to shoulder injury; 33 receptions for 364 yards (11.03 yards per catch), 3 TD
2008: Started 13 of 13 games; 29 receptions for 340 yards (11.72 yards per catch), 2 TD
Majored in Management-Consulting at Notre Dame.
Awards & Honors
2009: John Mackey Award semi-finalist
He was named a USA Today All-American and was the number one rated high school tight end in 2007. Played center for his high school basketball team, setting the school record for career rebounds with 568.
Nothing of note.
Prospect Video Clips
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