Ranking the NFL's Best Rookie TEs as Season Enters 2nd Half

Thomas ChristianContributor IIINovember 18, 2011

Ranking the NFL's Best Rookie TEs as Season Enters 2nd Half

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    Tight ends are a very important safety valve for the quarterback when plays break down. In recent years there have been some tight ends that have become game-changers, which include: Jimmy Graham, Jason Witten, Jermichael Finley and Antonio Gates.

    Tight ends are not known for making an immediate impact, but which rookie tight ends have had opportunities during the first half to the season and are poised to make a bigger impact in the second half of 2011?

5. Colin Cochart, Cincinnati Bengals

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    It took Colin Cochart half of his rookie season, but the first-year man out of South Dakota State made his first appearance as a professional football player in Week 9 against the Tennessee Titans.

    In that game against Tennessee, Cochart caught two passes and scored a touchdown, a game that the Bengals won by seven.

    Just this past weekend, Cochart had another reception for 25 yards that set up an Andy Dalton touchdown pass to Jermaine Gresham.


    Season Stats 

    Three receptions, 32 yards, one TD
    One reception of 20-plus yards

4. Rob Housler, Arizona Cardinals

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    Rob Housler was a third-round draft pick by the Arizona Cardinals and played his college ball at Florida Atlantic University.

    Housler has found it tough to find the field as he is currently the third tight end on the Cardinals behind Todd Heap and Jeff King.

    He made his first catch in Week 4 and saw a reception in four straight games until he was slowed by a groin injury.


    Season Stats

    Seven receptions, 72 yards
    One reception of 20-plus yards

3. Luke Stocker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Luke Stocker was a fourth-round draft pick out of Tennessee where he set a Volunteer record of 52 games played by a position player.

    Stocker has seen sporadic time on the field this season as he has been hampered by a knee injury and is the primary backup to veteran TE Kellen Winslow.

    His best game this season came in a Week 3 win over Atlanta when he caught two passes, one of which went for 24 yards.


    Season Stats

    Seven receptions, 73 yards
    One reception of 20-plus yards.

2. Lance Kendricks, St. Louis Rams

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    Despite above-average physical skills, the St. Louis Rams gave the Wisconsin product a shot by drafting him in the second round after a stellar career in Madison where he was a finalist for the John Mackey Award.

    The Rams placed high expectations on Kendricks and felt he could step in right away and contribute to the offense, which also features Sam Bradford.

    Until he was slowed by injury, Kendricks had four catches in back-to-back games against the Redskins and Packers.

    Unfortunately for Kendricks, he is expected to be sidelined for another week after an injury against the Arizona Cardinals on November 6th. 


    Season Stats

    14 receptions, 182 yards
    Three receptions of 20-plus yards
    One reception of 40-plus yards

1. Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings

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    Kyle Rudolph played his college ball at Notre Dame where he started every game that he played in during his three years in South Bend. He was rewarded by being drafted in the second round by the Minnesota Vikings.

    He has spent the better part of his rookie season playing behind Visanthe Shiancoe. Of Rudolph's 14 receptions, eight have gone for first downs as he has shown superior route running ability for his size.

    This past Monday night against the Packers, Rudolph showcased his phenomenal hands as he went up over multiple Packer defenders and hauled in a one-handed pass for a gain of 21 yards.


    Season Stats

    14 receptions, 170 yards
    Three receptions of 20-plus yards
    One reception of 40-plus yards