The New York Giants have made a number of notable, headline-grabbing moves this offseason. Retaining Leonard Williams and signing both Kenny Golladay and Adoree Jackson are certainly ones that quickly jump to mind. However, a much more low-key move on the offensive side of the ball could prove to be the most vital new face in New York when it comes to the development of quarterback Daniel Jones.
Kyle Rudolph may not be the Pro Bowl-caliber player he once was during the early parts of his career in Minnesota. However, he remains the type of surehanded, red-zone threat that young signal-callers love to lean on — the type of surehanded, red-zone threat that Jones has lacked throughout his first two NFL seasons.
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Rudolph Likens Daniel Jones to Andrew Luck
Appearing on The Pat McAfee Show recently, Rudolph gushed over his new quarterback, even likening him to former No. 1 overall pick and widely perceived generational talent, Andrew Luck.
“He’s a stud and then you watch him over the last two years and — you said it — he’s got all the intangibles to be an Andrew Luck-type quarterback,” Rudolph proclaimed. “Hopefully we put a bunch of pieces around him and we can take some of the pressure off of him, let him just go out there and play with confidence and let all those attributes and abilities take over.”
So far, so good on that front. After throwing to players such as Bennie Fowler and Cody Latimer and handing the rock to the likes of Buck Allen and Jon Hilliman over his first two years in East Rutherford, Jones looks to finally have himself a viable supporting cast. The aforementioned Kenny Golladay will man the No. 1 receiver role in the offense, while Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton will slide down the pecking order to a more suitable role. Rudolph will join Evan Engram, who despite his lapses, will help form one of the better tight end tandems in football. Oh, and a healthy Saquon Barkley in the backfield certainly won’t hurt.
Speaking of Barkley, a huge reason for Rudolph’s arrival in New York has as much to do with his run blocking as it does his abilities in the passing game. Of all the tight ends across the league to log at least 200 snaps in 2020, Rudolph graded out as the fifth-best blocking tight end, per Pro Football Focus.
As Rudolph alluded to, operating in a run-heavy offense the past few seasons that featured Pro Bowler Dalvin Cook, the veteran was left with no other choice but to build upon his run-blocking prowess.
“I had to get down and dirty for a couple of years,” he teased. “I’m used to just running around catching balls and that wasn’t the case the last couple of years in Minnesota.”
Rudolph went on to praise Barkley, even going as far as somewhat prematurely enshrining the former No. 2 overall pick into Canton.
“I would like to think now, this will be my 11th-year, and I’ve probably blocked for three Hall of Fame running backs in a row,” Rudolph stated. “I mean going Adrian (Peterson), Dalvin’s certainly off to a hot start in his career and you look at what Saquon’s done throughout his first couple of years.”
Jones Originally Caught the Eye of Rudolph Back in 2019
Rudolph’s first glimpse of Jones came back in the quarterback’s rookie year, when the Giants traveled to Minnesota in Week 5 of the 2019 NFL season. New York lost the game, 28-10. However, the former Duke Blue Devil did enough to leave a lasting impression on Rudolph and his former teammates.
“We (the Vikings) went up two years ago and played the Giants and I remember watching him in that game and some of the throws that he made,” Rudolph noted. “I remember talking to some of our defensive guys like Everson Griffin and Harrison Smith. They were like, ‘Dude, this quarterback’s got some juice to him.’”
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