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Rudolph: Draft Changed Uncertainty to '1 of Greatest Days'

Kyle Rudolph can relate to draft day uncertainty prompted by injury.

In 2011, Rudolph was coming off a torn hamstring suffered during his junior season (2010) at Notre Dame. It kept him from participating at the NFL Scouting Combine, but he was able to run the 40-yard dash for scouts three weeks later.

The Vikings had seen enough positives out of Rudolph's first three years at college to make him the first tight end selected in that year's class. Rudolph was picked in the second round, 43rd overall, the second-highest ever for a Vikings tight end (Hal Bedsole, 19th overall, 1964).

Five years later, Rudolph was asked by media about his draft memories on Tuesday at Winter Park where he and teammates began participating in voluntary offseason workouts last week.

"You go through a lot from your last college game to [draft] week," Rudolph said. "For me personally, it was a lot of rehab dealing with a surgery and being really unsure with where things were going to go."

"But at the end of the day you hear your name called, and it's one of the greatest days of your life," Rudolph added. "You get the opportunity to be a part of one of 32 franchises in the NFL."

Rudolph also was asked about the possible draft fate of Jaylon Smith in this weekend's draft, which starts Thursday and concludes Saturday. The linebacker was highly touted in his three years with the Fighting Irish but suffered torn knee ligaments during the 2016 Fiesta Bowl. Smith opted to enter the draft with a year of college eligibility remaining in spite of a projected lengthy recovery process.

Rudolph said he has not spoken with Smith, "but having gone through a similar process, you're getting advice from everywhere. Everyone has their guy or the genius or the guru that's going to help you get better."

"I do know Jaylon well enough to know that he's going to work hard and get through this," Rudolph added. "It may not be as quickly as he would like, but when you go through something that severe you just have to take one day at a time and you'll get back to where you are."

NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock ranked Smith as his top prospect at linebacker in his initial positional rankings in February, in March and earlier this month but dropped Smith out of the top five in an update* *posted Wednesday.

Rudy's End Zone

Now on his second contract with Minnesota, Rudolph has found the end zone 22 times so far in his career. He ranks third all-time among tight ends in franchise history behind Steve Jordan (28) and Visanthe Shiancoe (24).

In addition to reaching for more scores, Rudolph is also raising funds for a project to build "Kyle Rudolph's End Zone" at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital. The space will be approximately 3,000 square feet built near the hospital's Wilf Family Center.

Rudolph discussed the project and other topics with "Voice of the Vikings" Paul Allen on KFAN Monday morning.

He described the vision of the End Zone to be a space "where kids and their family members can escape their hospital rooms. They'll have a place to go and be kids, kind of let loose and forget why they're in the hospital."

The idea blossomed out of Rudolph attending events led by Vikings veteran center John Sullivan to bring joy to the hospital's patients.

"We get more out of it than the kids and families," Rudolph told Allen. "I don't think they realize that. It gives you a sense of reality and how tough some people have it. They always keep a positive mindset and approach each and every day that way."

Rudolph is hosting a unique fundraiser dinner at 4 Bells in Minneapolis Thursday during the first round of the draft. Click here for more information or tickets.

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