Kyle Rudolph is the longest-tenured player on the Vikings' roster. According to SI's Conor Orr, he's also the most underrated.
Orr recently wrote a piece listing the most underrated player for every team in the NFC, and Rudolph was his choice for the Vikings. His argument in defense of that selection centered on the veteran tight end's importance to Minnesota's offense, as well as his consistently reliable presence in the passing game:
Yes, Rudolph has made Pro Bowls before, but I think we completely misinterpret how valuable someone in his position is. The Vikings thrive on a two-tight end setup, which means Rudolph takes a heightened responsibility in pacing both the passing game and run blocking to develop play action. There was not a receiver in football who finished 2019 with a better catch percentage than Rudolph, who hauled in more than 80% of his targets.
There's no denying that Rudolph is a valuable part of the Vikings' offense given his roles as a pass-catcher, blocker, and all-around leader.
But is he underrated? I'm not sure about that. Considering Rudolph's status as a two-time Pro Bowler and his history of impressive touchdown catches, I think the national public has a fairly accurate view of his talent. They may not understand the complexity of his responsibilities, which is Orr's main argument, but Rudolph is a big-name player who has gotten plenty of recognition for his accomplishments.
When it comes to the Vikings' most underrated player, I think the answer might still be Danielle Hunter. CBS Sports recently ranked Hunter as the seventh-best edge rusher in the NFL, which feels way too low for someone with his dominant production over the past two seasons. He deserves to be mentioned as one of the best defensive ends in the NFL right now, and I'm not seeing that happen as much as it should this offseason.
Other Vikings players I'd consider underrated – whether by national NFL analysts, fans, or both – are Eric Kendricks, Harrison Smith, Anthony Harris, Kirk Cousins, Adam Thielen, and Brian O'Neill.
Join the conversation at InsideTheVikings by clicking the follow button in the upper right-hand corner of this page (mobile users, tap the bell icon – you may have to click ‘News’ first), and follow @WillRagatz on Twitter.