Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph was named the 2013 Pro Bowl’s Most Valuable Player on Sunday after recording five catches for 122 yards and a touchdown in the NFC’s 62-35 win over the AFC.
Utilized most frequently by the NFC’s first two quarterbacks to play — Drew Brees of the Saints and the Giants’ Eli Manning — Rudolph gave AFC defenders matchup fits with his towering size, route running down the seam and sidelines, and physical play in traffic. On his three-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter, Rudolph split out wide right like a receiver and beat Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston to secure Manning’s lobbed pass.
The performance gives the Vikings a tease at the player Rudolph is capable of becoming if Christian Ponder establishes himself as a franchise-caliber signal caller. Rudolph doesn’t possess explosive wheels, but he’s difficult to defend on contested catches when his quarterback gives him a chance to make a play.
It’s worth noting that Rudolph was a Pro Bowl replacement, taking Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez’s spot on the NFC roster.