NFL draft field analysis: The tight ends

  • Updated: April 20, 2011 - 4:43 PM

Notre Dame's Rudolph is considered the top tight end, but don't expect him in purple. They won't take a tight end until late in the draft.

Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph

Photo: Michael Conroy, Associated Press

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THE CREAM

KYLE RUDOLPH, NOTRE DAME

Rudolph is projected as the top tight end in this draft, but there are injury concerns about him.

Rudolph, 6-6 and 259 pounds, played in only six games in 2010 and needed season-ending surgery after tearing two tendons off the bone of his already injured right hamstring in October against Pittsburgh. He caught 28 passes for 328 yards and three touchdowns before getting hurt.

In 2009, Rudolph suffered a separated left shoulder and missed two games; he underwent surgery that December.

Rudolph completed his three seasons at Notre Dame, ranking fourth in school history in career receptions (90) and receiving yards (1,032) by a tight end. He also had eight touchdown catches in 29 games.

Scouts like his pass-catching ability and feel he will only get better as a blocker. The fact Rudolph looked good at his Pro Day this month should help his cause. He reportedly posted times of 4.78 and 4.8 in the 40-yard dash. Those aren't great, but Rudolph isn't known as a speedster.

"Tony Gonzalez is the best tight end who has ever played in my time, and I really try to model myself after him," Rudolph said. "But I feel that [Dallas'] Jason Witten, I feel really comparable to his game. A guy that can hold the point and is a great blocker but at the same time he makes huge plays in the passing game."

Rudolph played for Charlie Weis in his first two seasons with the Irish before Brian Kelly took over last year and brought along the spread offense. "I was able to pick up on that pretty quick," Rudolph said of the spread. "He created a lot of mismatches offensively, and I got to play a lot of different spots."

THE CROP

1. LANCE KENDRICKS, WISCONSIN

Kendricks had some off-the-field issues related to drinking early in his time in Madison, Wis., but developed into a reliable pass-catching tight end. He has graduated and is working toward a second degree. As a senior, he led the Badgers with 43 catches for 663 yards with five touchdowns in 13 games (11 starts). Listed at 6-2, 243 pounds, there isn't much question about his athletic ability, but there is some concern about his strength and thus his ability to block when required.

2. VIRGIL GREEN, NEVADA

Like Kendricks, he originally was recruited as a receiver and then shifted to tight end. Green is considered to be on the raw side but still is projected as a second- or third-round selection by Pro Football Weekly. Last season as a senior, the 6-3, 249-pound Green had career highs with 35 catches for 515 yards. He tied his total from the previous season with five scoring receptions. He possesses excellent speed and also can adjust to make a catch.

3. LUKE STOCKER, TENNESSEE

A starter for the Volunteers the past three seasons, Stocker (6-4, 258 pounds) has good size and is viewed as a very consistent player who is a good receiver and blocker and could be plugged into an offense. Stocker, who served as a captain at Tennessee, had a career-high 39 receptions for 417 yards with two touchdowns in 2010. Has the ability to line up at different spots and also can go in motion.

SLEEPER

ROB HOUSLER, FLORIDA ATLANTIC

Housler helped himself in a big way at the NFL scouting combine in February, posting the best time among tight ends in the 40-yard dash (4.46). He also had a vertical jump of 37 inches. Housler, 6-5 and 238 pounds, has struggled at times with receiving but was able to catch 39 passes for 629 yards and four touchdowns last season. He redshirted in 2009 in order to save his final season of eligibility and get more playing time in 2010. Projected by Pro Football Weekly to end up as an H-back.

 

PURPLE FEVER

Do not be surprised if the Vikings select a tight end in the later rounds. Team executives were not happy last September when seventh-round selection Mickey Shuler was claimed off waivers by Miami, and the Vikings would like to get younger at this position. Visanthe Shiancoe turns 31 in June and will be entering the final season of his contract.

JUDD ZULGAD

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New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Portland 0 Postponed
Brooklyn 0
Sacramento 0 Postponed
New York 0
Philadelphia 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Minnesota 7:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Orlando 7:00 PM
Memphis
Boston 8:00 PM
Utah
Denver 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Army 6:00 PM
American Univ
Wright State 6:00 PM
Detroit
Syracuse 6:00 PM
North Carolina
Cleveland State 6:00 PM
Oakland
Delaware State 6:00 PM
NC Central
High Point 6:00 PM
Presbyterian
Howard 6:30 PM
Bethune-Cookman
Coppin State 6:30 PM
NC A&T
Nicholls 6:30 PM
Northwestern St
Hampton 6:30 PM
SC State
Gardner-Webb 7:00 PM
Campbell
MD-Eastern Shore 7:00 PM
Florida A&M
Stephen F Austin 7:00 PM
Lamar
Central Arkansas 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Norfolk State 7:00 PM
Savannah State
TX A&M-CC 7:00 PM
SE Louisiana
Sam Houston St 7:00 PM
Abilene Christian
McNeese State 7:00 PM
Incarnate Word
Milwaukee 7:05 PM
Valparaiso
Alcorn State 7:30 PM
Alabama A&M
Southern U 7:30 PM
Alabama State
Prairie View 8:00 PM
Ark-Pine Bluff
Texas 8:00 PM
Iowa State
Texas Southern 8:00 PM
Miss Valley St
Long Island 85 FINAL
Bryant 88
Central Conn St 51 FINAL
St Francis-NY 49
Fairleigh Dickinson 0 Postponed
Sacred Heart 0
St Francis-PA 87 FINAL
Wagner 74
Delaware State 59 FINAL
NC Central 66
Howard 28 2nd Half 12:40
Bethune-Cookman 49
Coppin State 30 2nd Half 11:49
NC A&T 42
Hampton 57 2nd Half 9:54
SC State 37
Norfolk State 31 2nd Half 20:00
Savannah State 30
Prairie View 5:00 PM
Ark-Pine Bluff
MD-Eastern Shore 14 1st Half 3:33
Florida A&M 27
Samford 20 2nd Half
(25) Chattanooga 33
Texas Southern 5:30 PM
Miss Valley St
Alcorn State 10 1st Half 14:41
Alabama A&M 4
Southern U 13 1st Half 11:59
Alabama State 4
(12) Texas A&M 6:00 PM
(1) South Carolina
Robert Morris 6:00 PM
Mount St Marys
East Tenn St 6:00 PM
Mercer
Wofford 6:00 PM
Furman
Morehead St 6:00 PM
Tenn Tech
Illinois 6:00 PM
Michigan
Quinnipiac 0 Postponed
Manhattan 0
Saint Peters 0 Postponed
Rider 0
(18) Miss State 8:00 PM
Auburn
(15) Nebraska 8:00 PM
(20) Iowa
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