Kyle Rudolph and Harrison Smith have certainly given Notre Dame, their alma mater, a strong reputation since being drafted by the Vikings in 2011 and 2012, respectively.
In an ongoing series of NFL.com articles, Chase Goodbread has been ranking the "best draft picks of the century from the most prominent programs in college football." Goodbread explained his strategy:
Players were ranked through a formula in which they received points for honors they've acquired in their NFL career, including being selected to the Pro Bowl (including as injury replacements) and being selected first-team All-Pro. Players were also rewarded relative to where in the draft they were selected. First-round picks benefited least because a strong career would be expected; seventh-round picks benefited most. In some cases, a longevity bonus was granted.
Since 2000, 75 players have been drafted out of Notre Dame. Goodbread on Tuesday ranked the top five Fighting Irish to be selected in that time frame.
Rudolph was ranked No. 3 with 3.6 points, and Smith was ranked No. 4 with 2.2 points.
Rudolph made the Pro Bowl in his second NFL season (2012) and over the last two years, his production has spiked. Now on his second contract with the Vikings, he broke the club record for single-season catches by a tight end last year with 83. He also holds the club record for career TD catches by a TE with 29.
Goodbread highlighted Smith's consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl, his inclusion in the "NFL's Top 100 Players," and his contract extension with Minnesota last summer.
Coming in at No. 1 and No. 2 on Goodbread's list were Cowboys guard Zack Martin and former Giants defensive end Justin Tuck, respectively. Receiver Golden Tate came in behind Smith at No. 5.
Robison: 'I'm here to win football games'
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer spoke highly of defensive end Brian Robison in a podium session with Twin Cities media members on Tuesday. There, he said that Robison has handled a transition of roles "probably as good as anyone I've ever been around."
Following Tuesday's practice, Matt Vensel of the *Star Tribune *caught up with Robison and asked if his mentality will change "if he shifts back into a reserve role" with the emergence of Danielle Hunter in his first two NFL seasons.
"The bottom line is that I'm here to win football games. That's all that matters to me. I want to bring a championship to the state of Minnesota," Robison told Vensel. "So whatever happens is up to the coaches. I'm not worried about that. I'm worried about being the best football player I can be for my team."
Robison said that regardless of what role he plays for the Vikings in 2017, he has "faith in this team" and said there's "nowhere else I'd rather be."
*Hunter, who Robison believes has "God-gifted" abilities and physical tools, may have passed Robison on the depth chart. But just because Robison won't be listed as a starter doesn't mean he won't have an important role in 2017. The versatile veteran still could end up playing between 50 and 60 percent of the defensive snaps. *
Zimmer likes to keep his defensive linemen fresh, which is why Robison, Hunter and Pro Bowl right end Everson Griffen all played at least 600 snaps last season. Plus, Zimmer figures to continue to utilize Robison as an interior pocket-pusher on passing downs, pulling big nose tackle Linval Joseph off the field so he can line up Robison next to Hunter.