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Minnesota Vikings: 5 Reasons Kyle Rudolph Will Be Christian Ponder's Best Weapon

Mike NelsonCorrespondent IDecember 2, 2016

Minnesota Vikings: 5 Reasons Kyle Rudolph Will Be Christian Ponder's Best Weapon

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    The New England Patriots created the blueprint for running a successful two-tight end offense in 2011.

    It’s a blueprint the Minnesota Vikings wish to replicate in 2012 with John Carlson and Kyle Rudolph—with an emphasis on Rudolph.

    Minnesota hopes that the presence of those two will expedite the development of Christian Ponder—Minnesota’s 2011 first-round pick and quarterback of the future.

    Rudolph showed glimpses of the talent that enticed Minnesota to select him with the 43rd overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft, but he didn’t blow anyone away.

    If Ponder is to take significant steps forward in 2012, he needs Rudolph.

Physical Specimen

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    At 6’6”, 258 pounds, Kyle Rudolph is a man of an NFL tight end.

    According to Minnesota head coach Leslie Frazier, Rudolph can run around a 4.6 40-yard dash. Rudolph posted a 34.5'' vertical leap and a 9'5'' standing long jump at his pro day.

    Rudolph possesses an 80.63'' wingspan, and his hands are 10.75 inches.

    Rudolph is the tallest receiver on Minnesota’s roster and could prove to be a strong, reliable red-zone and third-down option. He can become a much more athletic safety valve and red-zone machine for Christian Ponder.

Strong, Reliable Hands

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    Troy Williamson will go down as one of the worst draft picks in Minnesota Vikings history. He will also go down as one of the worst receivers in Minnesota Vikings history.

    No worries, folks. Kyle Rudolph isn’t Troy Williamson. Rudolph’s hands are strong and reliable, while Williamson’s were filled with lubricant.

    The highlight of Rudolph’s rookie campaign came against the Denver Broncos on a 19-yard touchdown reception. Rudolph had to go through Denver’s defensive back and hold on to the pigskin with his fingertips.

    Williamson would have needed more stick ‘em than Clifford Franklin from The Replacements.

    With this catch, Rudolph showed off his strong paws—something he was known for coming out of Notre Dame, according to Walter Football.

    As previously mentioned, Rudolph nearly has one-foot long hands. That’s disgusting. If Rudolph can get his hands on the ball, it’s going to be caught.

First-Round Talent

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    If not for a hamstring injury, Kyle Rudolph would have been a first-round pick in 2011. Instead, Rudolph slipped to the Vikings in the second round, 43rd overall.

    Minnesota selected the former Notre Dame product even with the presence of NFL-proven Visanthe Shiancoe and a plethora of holes across its roster. A franchise only takes a player at a position of strength when it believes that player truly is the best available.

    Rudolph was described as “a very good receiving tight end and could be a steal in the second round,” by NFL.com prior to the 2011 NFL draft.

    Entering his second year as a professional after his first full offseason, it’s time for that first-round talent to shine.

Connection

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    Chemistry seems to go more and more underappreciated in sports.

    Kyle Rudolph entered the league the same time as Christian Ponder. Ponder was Minnesota’s first-round pick in 2011; Rudolph was the second-round pick in the same year.

    The two struggled together as Minnesota posted a 3-13 record during their rookie campaigns. The two have had an entire offseason to improve the connection they started to create last season.

    After Minnesota’s first practice of training camp on Friday, July 27, 1500ESPN’s Tom Pelissero wrote, “No one seemed more in rhythm than Ponder and Rudolph, who caught five more passes from his close friend than anyone else.”

    Vikings fans hope that’s a trend that continues deep into the 2012 season.

Short Passes

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    Typically speaking, tight ends aren’t burners. They’re taller, bigger, slower targets who do their damage within 15 yards of the line of scrimmage.

    Tight ends are the perfect safety valve for a young quarterback. They enable the quarterback to work on his accuracy.

    Given that Kyle Rudolph is a taller, bigger, slower tight end, he can help Christian Ponder march Minnesota up and down the field with easier, shorter completions. That type of offense doesn’t get the people going, but scoring is scoring.

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