For the next several weeks I will be breaking down the Viking’s roster, evaluating the players and letting you know what to expect from each position.
By Jordan Wright
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My fourth installment will be breaking down the tight ends. Last season there was a lot of hope about the tight ends on the roster, particularly after Kyle Rudolph signed a contract extension and Norv Turner was brought in to be the Offensive Coordinator because he has had very good success with tight ends in the past, including Antonio Gates and Jordan Cameron. Norv’s offense is predicated on the deep throw, which will open up the middle of the field, and when you combine that with Kyle Rudolph’s pass catching abilities, it seems like a match made in heaven. If only it were that simple.
Starter: Kyle Rudolph
There is no competition at tight end, especially considering Kyle went to the Pro Bowl in 2013 and won the Pro Bowl MVP award. Sure, there will be a battle for who gets snaps between the remaining tight ends, but everyone in the meeting room knows the starter is Kyle Rudolph. While there is no denying Kyle’s speed, size and pass catching abilities, the biggest question about him is his health. Over the past two seasons, Kyle has only been able to play in 17 games because of injury. If Rudolph can stay healthy, he will be one of the best tight ends in the NFL. He has all the talent in the world and the right coach to put those talents to good use. Now we just have to hope he stays healthy.
Back-ups: MyCole Pruitt, Chase Ford, Rhett Ellison, Brandon Bostick
The starter at tight end is easy to identify, but the primary back up? That’s a little more difficult. The Vikings drafted MyCole Pruitt in the fifth round of the draft, and by all accounts he is showing well during OTAs. Unless something drastic happens like an injury, one would have to assume Pruitt has a spot reserved on this roster.
Chase Ford was one of the players called upon last season to fill in while Kyle Rudolph was injured. Ford was originally an undrafted free agent out of Miami and signed with Philadelphia, but ended up on Minnesota’s practice squad. Entering his third season, Ford has the skills to be a successful tight end in the NFL, but unfortunately for him there is a lot of competition at his position.
Rhett Ellison is really a combination tight end/ fullback, and he reminds me a lot of Jim Kleinsasser. Neither one is going to blow you away with their blazing speed, but both of them know what is expected of them and get it done. Because he doesn’t have great speed, Ellison wasn’t expecting to get drafted. In fact, the LA Times did a great story on him (he was from USC) where they talk about how Ellison went fishing with his dad during the draft to avoid the whole thing all together, and when he got the call from Rick Spielman he broke down in tears. Ellison is entering his fourth season in the NFL.
Brandon Bostick will unfortunately always be remembered for his play in the NFC Championship game for the Green Bay Packers where he failed to corral the onside kick attempt by Seattle and the Packers lost the game. Green Bay promptly cut Bostick, and he signed with Minnesota this offseason.
It really all comes down to whether the Vikings keep three tight ends and a full back (like Zach Line), or if they decide to keep four tight ends. Rudolph and Pruitt aren’t going anywhere, so that leaves Chase Ford, Rhett Ellison and Brandon Bostick competing for the final tight end spot(s). I see the Vikings giving a spot to Ellison since he is able to do more on the field than the other two. Chase Ford is good but the Vikings drafted a better version of him this year with Pruitt. Brandon was never able to get much playing time in Green Bay, even though they desperately needed a tight end. As such, I don’t see him being able to stick on this roster.