For months, Notre Dame junior tight end Kyle Rudolph toiled on the fringes of 2011 NFL Draft conversations. A hamstring injury had cut his final college season short, and recovery from surgery to repair the issue had prevented him from working out for pro scouts. That changed yesterday, as Rudolph turned in an impressive day at Notre Dame's pro day.
According to the National Football Post, Rudolph ran in the high-4.7/low-4.8-second range in his 40-yard dash attempts - unspectacular times, to be sure, but more than sufficient, particularly coming off of surgery. More importantly, Rudolph looked quick and fluid in receiving drills, and according Wes Bunting has cemented himself as, at minimum, a very early second-round pick.
I freely admit that Rudolph is among my favorite prospects entering the NFL this year; he might even top the list. Tight ends like Rudolph are hard to find - he's huge, a very good athlete, and can hurt a defense as a receiver and a run blocker. He's that coveted, do-everything tight end that can turn a good offense into a great one. I'm not counting on tight end being enough of a priority for the Bills to take Rudolph should he be available at No. 34, but you can bet I'll be making ill-advised attempts at a backflip if Rudolph ends up in Buffalo. He's going to be good for a very long time provided he can stay healthy.