Bucs Appear Serious About TE Kyle RudolphMarch 26th, 2011
NFL Draft guru Justin “The Commish” Pawlowski, of WDAE-AM 620, continues to work night and day on his must-read draft coverage on JoeBucsFan.com, and on the draft page at 620wdae.com.
The Commish talked to possible Bucs DE target Ryan Kerrigan yesterday, as well as tight end prospect Kyle Rudolph out of Notre Dame. Enjoy this story below, including audio of the Rudolph interview. (Kerrigan to come later.)
By JUSTIN PAWLOWSKI
One of the first moves Mark Dominik made as general manager of the Bucs was to trade for Kellen Winslow and make him the highest paid tight end in the NFL. We’re not three years removed from that day, and the Bucs are interested in another highly touted tight end.
In my Friday interview with Rudolph, who is considered by many including myself to be the top tight end in the 2011 draft, said that the Buccaneers had genuine interest in him.
“I interviewed with the Bucs. I really like coach Morris and our interview went really well,” Rudolph said. “I loved his energy and enthusiasm for the game. I would love to be a Buccaneer.”
Kellen Winslow Jr. is still under contract, but the depth behind Winslow is extremely shaky. Jerramy Stevens finally wore out his welcome last season and was released, and John Gilmore is a free agent this off-season. Ryan Purvis could be the only depth behind Winslow. which is why the Bucs will be looking to add a tight end some time during this year’s draft.
Rudolph has the ability and talent to be an outstanding threat from the tight end position, but injuries have hurt him the past two seasons at Notre Dame. He missed the second half of 2010 with a hamstring injury that required surgery. Rudolph says he is at 100 percent and will fully participate in Notre Dame’s April 7 pro day.
“It’s been a long time since I was able to go out and run around like my old self and I feel like I’m back to that point,” Rudolph said about his expectations for his pro day. “I’m going to do every drill, run routes, and catch balls. I’m definitely excited for it.”
Rudolph’s pro day is as important as any pro day this offseason. Without being able to workout at the combine, Rudolph has not been able to show off his full talent or show off that he is healthy.
Rudolph would not go into too much detail about future visits or workouts, saying that he is mainly focused on his pro day, and those arrangements would take place after that day. However, he did confirm that the Bucs assured him they would be there.
Mark Dominik has warned that the Bucs might not be a lock for a defensive player in the first two rounds of this year’s draft.
Continuing to gather more weapons for Josh Freeman will always be something this Buccaneer regime will look to do. It should also be noted that Greg Olson, like Jon Gruden, runs a lot of 2-tight-end sets. Depth at that position is extremely important.
If the Bucs are indeed smitten with Rudolph, they might consider drafting him in the first round to secure him. Waiting until the second round could be too late, considering that Rudolph should end up as a late first round or early second round pick.
Here’s the entire Kyle Rudolph interview: