Vikings' Kyle Rudolph says he's the best tight end in the NFL

By Josh Katzowitz | NFL Writer

Best TE? Kyle Rudolph's career totals: 109 catches, 1,055 yards, 15 TDs. (USATSI)
Best TE? Kyle Rudolph's career totals in three seasons: 109 catches, 1,055 yards, 15 TDs. (USATSI)

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Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph has had a decent enough three-year career.

He caught 53 passes for nine touchdowns in 2012 and made the Pro Bowl, but he missed the second half of last season with a broken foot (he had been on pace, though, for 60 catches for 626 yards and six touchdowns).

So yeah, you could probably argue that Rudolph is one of the 10 best tight ends in the game.

But those aren't the terms Rudolph wants to debate. Here's Rudolph's answer when he was asked to name the best tight end in the NFL: "Me."

"There's a ton of talented tight ends in our game," Rudolph said, via the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "You have guys that play at a high level, like Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, Jason Witten and Vernon Davis. But I would put myself up there with them.

"I feel as a tight end, it's extremely important to be a guy that can contribute in the running game and also in the passing game."

By that, he means you have to be a strong blocker if you want to take the title of "best tight end in the game."

According to the Pro Football Focus metrics, he was competent as a pass blocker in 2013 but not so good as a run blocker. In 2012, he was above average in run-blocking and pass protection, but he wasn't anywhere near the blocking production of Colts tight end Dwayne Allen in 2012 or Panthers tight end Ben Hartsock last season.

But considering there's a new offensive coordinator in town -- Norv Turner, whose recent teams have featured Cleveland's Jordan Cameron (who caught 80 passes last season) and San Diego's Antonio Gates (eight-time Pro Bowl selection) -- we might see Rudolph catch even more passes in 2014.

"If you follow his coaching career, all the places he's been, the tight end has been really important in his offense," Rudolph said. "I'm looking forward to being a part of that. ... My goal every year is to be the best tight end in the NFL."

By my calculations, he still has a ways to go.

 
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