Separation Skills: For a Tight End, shows excellent release technique. Uses his hands nicely when defensive backs or linebackers challenge him at the line of scrimmage. Splits out and plays the slot position a lot. Knows how to create separation in his routes. Maintains route discipline, never drifting. Shows consistent speed in-and-out of his breaks. Also displays good separation skills after the catch.
Ball Skills: Huge hands and long arms provide an enormous throwing radius for Quarterbacks. Is a natural hands catcher that attacks the ball. Rarely allows it into his frame. Even on the run, he shows the ability to pluck the ball cleanly and effortlessly. Does a good job at hauling in difficult catches, whether they be back shoulder, shoe string, or of the one-handed variety. Huge target that has above average leaping ability. Presents a total mismatch in a jump ball situation. Displays tremendous focus, especially when gong over the middle or down the seam. Like most Tight Ends, knows how to shield defenders away from the ball using his body.
Big play Skills: Understands zone coverage well. Knows how to sit in pockets and exploit the seams for big gains. Isn’t the most agile guy, but exhibits above average speed for the position. Can make a catch and pull away from defenders. Also has a knack for breaking tackles and picking up extra yardage. Possesses adequate strength when running with the ball, and shows a nice stiff arm.
Competitiveness/ Toughness: Hard worker on the field that simply competes. Gives max effort in the passing game as well as the running game. Never waits for the ball, always attacks it and fights defenders for it. Despite injury setbacks, displays good physical toughness. Runs extremely hard with the football and is always attempting to push through contact to get to the sticks. Blocking is average at the moment, but he works extremely hard at it.
Intangibles: Durability issues. Missed a total of 8 games in the past two years. Good leader on and off the field. Excellent student, and held in high regard by the Notre Dame staff.
Overall Stock: Kyle Rudolph’s stock is hard to peg. He definitely has first round ability. Compared to Tight Ends that were selected in the first round in the past couple of years, his talents are superior. However, the injury bug is a huge concern. If he can’t stay on the field, teams will be reluctant to risk a first round pick on him. Teams picking in the back quarter of the draft could use his services. He’s a guy that has immense potential to be one of the “elite” Tight Ends at the next level. He will need to improve upon his blocking, but that comes with mini camp and training camp. If teams do decide to pass on him, the latest he’s left on the board is the middle of the second. Talent like his doesn’t come around all too often.
NFL Comparison: Mercedes Lewis