- Currently On Roster: Kyle Rudolph, David Morgan, Bucky Hodges, Nick Truesdell, Josiah Price, Kyle Carter
- Additions: Bucky Hodges (draft), Nick Truesdell (free agent), Josiah Price (undrafted free agent)
- Subtractions: Rhett Ellison (free agent)
Rudolph (6-6, 265, 7th season) — After recording career highs in catches (83) and yards (840), Rudolph experienced a breakout season in 2016. Staying healthy and redzone efficiency was one of the biggest reasons for his career year.
He has developed chemistry with Sam Bradford and the two have connected on multiple occasions in critical situations throughout games. Now one of the offensive leaders on the team, Rudolph is now looking to build off of his best season as a pro. He is undoubtedly the teams top tight end.
Morgan (6-4, 265, 2nd season) — Spending a 2016 sixth-round pick on Morgan, he came into his first training camp as a long shot. With Rudolph, Rhett Ellison and MyCole Pruitt already roster locks coming into the season, Morgan seemed to be on the outside looking in. He went on to shine in the pre-season, showing a trait that many knocked him for during the pre-draft process and that was his ability to be a pass catcher.
Known primarily for his run blocking skills, Morgan carved out a role for himself and overtook Pruitt as the season progressed. Now, with the departure of fullback Zach Line, Morgan assumes the fullback role, as well as continuing to be an in-line blocker in attached sets.
Hodges (6-6, 257, 1st season) — Tagged as a steal in the seventh-round of the 2017 draft, Hodges enters his first training camp with a ton of hype. Known as a pass-catcher, he has drawn comparisons to Seattle Seahawks tight end Jeremy Graham. Obviously, Hodges has a tremendous amount of production to collect in order to be mentioned in the same tier as Graham, but the measurables are eerily similar.
Hodges provides the Vikings offense with another receiving option behind Rudolph as Morgan isn’t the type of tight end that can consistently catch. Shurmur has a task in how to use Hodges, because that could make or break his fate and how productive he can be early on as a rookie.
Truesdell (6-7, 252, 2nd season) — Possessing an incredible story, he obviously was an unknown signing at the time. Bouncing around from the Indoor Football League (IFL) to the Arena Football League (AFL) and even spending a brief stint with the Indianapolis Colts last summer, he comes into his first training camp with the Vikings.
Running a 4.6-forty, Truesdell recorded off the chart measurables. With the team needing a second tight end receiving option, he potentially provides that. He enters a intriguing camp battle with Bucky Hodges, as both have very similar skill-sets.
Price (6-4, 243, 1st season) — A highly accomplished player during his collegiate career at Michigan State, Price recorded 21 touchdowns — the most for a tight end in school history. Despite all of his accolades and accomplishments, he ultimately went undrafted.
Entering camp with a chip on his shoulder, Price is a long-shot to make the teams final 53-man roster. If he’s able to show the promise that he did as a pass catcher and a blocker in his time as a Spartan, he has the chance to stay on the team as a practice squad candidate in order to further develop his overall game.
Carter (6-3, 245, 2nd season) — Entering his second-season with the franchise after being stashed on the practice squad during 2016, Carter has another chance at entering his name into the hat for a final roster spot. Finishing with 21 yards on three catches in four games during the pre-season a year ago, he must show that he’s improved.
Outlook: After a career year a season ago, Kyle Rudolph has solidified himself as the No. 1 tight end on the depth chart. After that though, the remains are a toss-up. David Morgan is assured a roster spot due to his blocking ability in the running game. He’s a tenacious blocker and without question the best blocker of the bunch.
The team carried four tight ends on the active roster a season ago, but that might not be the case this upcoming season. With Rudolph and Morgan already penciled in on the final 53-man roster, that leaves one and a possible spot open. Bucky Hodges enters training camp as a favorite to grab a hold of that potential final spot at TE, but the others might have something to say about it once camp concludes.
For NFL news and draft analysis, follow J.R. on Twitter @JReidDraftScout.
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