We’re burning our way through the offense, and Carl will top it off by previewing the offensive line tomorrow morning, and there has been a theme throughout this “Camp Battles” feature: Most of the competition involves the bottom of the depth chart. The tight end position is really not much different as there projects to be very little movement near the top of the positional depth chart.
Kyle Rudolph doubled his catch total (53) in his sophomore season, while nearly doubling his receiving yards (493) and he tripled his touchdown mark (nine). Rudolph has been one of Christian Ponder’s favorite targets since day one and he projects to be one of the league’s better tight ends in 2013. Not only will he remain atop the Vikings depth chart, I highly recommend adding him to your fantasy team, as well.
The oversized contract of John Carlson was restructured this offseason which should help him remain on the roster. The Vikings signed him hoping to replicate some of the success that other teams, namely the Patriots, had been experiencing with two pass catching tight ends on the field. “Underwhelming” is a kind way of describing Carlson’s 2012 season with the Vikings. He only notched eight catches for 43 totals yards. He threw a number of nice blocks throughout the season, but that wasn’t enough to keep him from being a running joke within Viking-fan circles.
Rhett Ellison was a mere rookie, and third stringer, but he was whatever the opposite of a joke would be. Ellison became a fan favorite by partially filling the void left by Jim Kleinsasser as an excellent blocker, adequate pass catcher, and he showed some prowess on special teams. He ended the season with seven catches, 65 receiving yards, and nine tackles.
Undrafted rookie Colin Anderson and second year player Chase Ford are the only other tight ends on the roster. Neither of them are likely to earn a spot on merit alone, but if Ellison continues to progress this offseason then Carlson could simply go from being an overpriced backup to being an overpriced third stringer.
The most likely scenario, however, is that the tight end depth chart ends up looking exactly like it did last year. My projection: Rudolph, Carlson, and Ellison.
Anderson and Ford could sneak in there, however, so they can’t do anything but give it their all in Mankato. At a minimum, they are in a battle with each other for the chance to land on the Vikings practice squad.