The Buccaneers Sign Veteran Tight End Kyle Rudolph
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have solidified their tight end room for the 2022 season. On Monday, Kyle Rudolph officially inked a one-year deal with the Bucs. Tom Brady has a new target. Rudolph spent the 2021 season with the New York Giants after a decade with the Minnesota Vikings. Originally selected in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft out of Notre Dame, Rudolph provides experience in a thinned tight end corps with the departure of O.J. Howard and recent retirement of Rob Gronkowski.
Rudolph is an established blocker, picking up blitzers as an extension of the offensive line. In addition, Rudolph possesses an impressive catch radius, is physical at the catch point and is effective in the red zone. The two-time Pro Bowler has accumulated career totals of 479 receptions for 4,745 yards and 49 touchdowns. Rudolph joins eight-year pro Cameron Brate, fourth-round pick Cade Otton, sixth-rounder Ko Kieft and third-year man Codey McElroy. The Bucs lacked experience at the tight end position besides Brate, with one career catch among the remaining collective group. Otton is recovering from an ankle injury that prematurely ended his 2021 collegiate season but is expected to be ready to go for camp. With the Buccaneers' heavy dose of two tight end sets, Rudolph will bolster the offense. His arrival on the scene begs the question, how will he fit in Tampa Bay's offensive onslaught?
"Kyle is a smart, tough, dependable player who has played at a high level in this league for a long time," said Bucs' Tight Ends Coach John Van Dam." He will bring a veteran presence to a relatively young room. It is great to now have two veteran players who both will be relied upon a ton this season. I love the versatility Kyle will bring as he is an asset in the pass game and plays with good technique and fundamentals in the run game.
View pictures from TE Kyle Rudolph's NFL career thus far.
"He has a familiarity with the schemes we run, different terminology but similar schemes in the run game. Kyle has definitely shown the ability to hold the point with success and play that traditional 'Y' tight end position in the past offenses he has been in. Kyle's experience and knowledge of the game is going to be one of the biggest assets to us, that goes for the run and pass game."
In essence, a 'Y' tight end fulfills a hybrid role: productive in-line attached to the offensive line as an extended blocker, yet possesses the receiving skills to create mismatches for linebackers and smaller defensive backs. In 12 personnel groupings, Brate's pass-catching ability and Rudolph's blocking prowess will create a lethal tandem. Rudolph is effective on chip-and-release routes, countering a pass rusher by performing a 'chip' to stall the defensive end before releasing towards a passing route. The 32-year-old is a powerful play side blocker, sealing the edge for running backs. With good core strength, he stays square while fighting through a defender's attempts to combat his block. Rudolph can ignite the Bucs' screen game and is another large target for Brady on deep crossers and comeback routes. With his experience level, Rudolph knows the league's tendencies and coverages, providing a reliable target in critical game-time situations. In a quarterback-friendly system that relies on a short passing attack to try and mitigate the opponent's pass rush/utilization of a two-high shell, Kyle Rudolph is an ideal fit in Tampa Bay.