On Friday night, the Vikings returned to their usual means of operation and stayed true to their board by selecting Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph in the second round. However, the decision was a bit of a surprise considering that of the Vikings' many positional needs, tight end didn't seem to be near the top of the list.
Rudolph joins a depth chart that includes starter Visanthe Shiancoe, Jim Kleinsasser and Jeff Dugan. All three will be entering the final season of their contracts, and Rudolph's presence likely means it will be difficult for Dugan to make the roster. Kleinsasser is 34 and will be entering his 13th NFL season, and it's uncertain how much longer he will play after 2011.
Rudolph, who declared for the draft after his junior season, likely would have been a first-round pick if he hadn't suffered a severe hamstring injury last season. He played the first six games with a sore right hamstring before tearing two tendons off the bone against Pittsburgh. He underwent season-ending surgery in mid-October.
Rudolph admits that, in retrospect, he should have shut himself down until what had been a hamstring pull was healed "instead of trying to be a tough guy and grind through it."
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave envision the potential of having the 6-6 Rudolph and 6-4 Shiancoe on the field at the same time in some packages.
"[That] would really create some mismatches for defenses," Frazier said. "In our game, that's a big part of what we are trying to do, create mismatches."