Conor Orr Names Kyle Rudolph the Vikings' Most Underrated Player

Will Ragatz

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.

Read: How Much Does Kyle Rudolph Have Left in the Tank?

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. 

Check out all of our Vikings 2020 season preview content right here.

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.

Comments (2)
No. 1-2

I just have no clue how someone would pick him as the most underrated? First of all, his contract says he is vastly overpaid for the performance he delivers -- so not underrated by the team, that's for sure. Second, for most of his career the Vikings have not been a 2TE set offense. That argument applies for the current scheme, but it isn't valid for most of his career. Similarly, until last year, Rudolph was almost universally criticized for being a bad blocker for his size. That improved last year, but I don't know that we can count on him being a core part of the run game in 2020.

Rudolph is an amazing goodwill ambassador and does great work in the Twin Cities --- I think that's the main reason he got paid. But "underrated" implies either that people don't recognize what you have done or that they don't see the high potential that you have. IMO, Rudolph hasn't done enough to be underrated from the first perspective and isn't good enough to be underrated from the latter.

I think Rudolph is overrated and wouldn't have signed him to the ridiculous extension we gave him last year. The performance doesn't support what we pay him, so how is he our most underrated guy?


He is Mr. Reliable but has been out shined by Diggs and Thielen the last couple seasons.