By Jon Krawczynski, AP Sports Writer
EDEN PRAIRIE -- The Minnesota Vikings selected Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph with their second-round pick in the NFL draft Friday night.
The Vikings took Rudolph with the 11th pick of the round, the 43rd choice overall. He played in only six games last season for the Fighting Irish because of a torn hamstring, but vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman said the team's doctors pronounced him in good health.
"That's a player that, normally, if he hadn't had that hamstring injury, we wouldn't have even had a shot to get," Spielman said.
The 6-foot-6, 265-pound Rudolph left school after his junior season. He caught 28 passes for 328 yards and three touchdowns last season.
"He has a lot of different skill sets," Spielman said. "You can split him out wide, you can put him (in the backfield), or you can put him on the line of scrimmage. He's going to develop into a starting tight end in this league."
Rudolph joins veterans Visanthe Shiancoe, Jim Kleinsasser and Jeff Dugan as tight ends on the Minnesota roster.
At first blush, the Vikings have greater needs at offensive line, defensive line and in the secondary. But Shiancoe, the team's top receiving tight end, is entering the final year of his contract.
"I know we have three tight ends on our roster right now, but when you have a player like that, it's just too good to pass up," Spielman said. "I know we'll sort it all out as we get there."
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, the defensive coordinator before he was promoted to head coach, has now used his first two picks on offensive players.
Rudolph will be catching passes from Christian Ponder.
The Vikings surprised some by taking Ponder with the 12th pick in the first round Thursday night. Ponder arrived in Minnesota on Friday and said it was his goal to be the starter in the season opener. He joins Joe Webb and Rhett Bomar, two unproven youngsters, on the roster.
"I am preparing myself like I'm going to be the starter, but I have to earn that role," Ponder said.