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Kyle Rudolph gaining momentum

4/8/2011

Notre Dame held its pro day on April 7, giving TE Kyle Rudolph his first opportunity to work out in front of NFL scouts after rehabbing a serious hamstring injury suffered in October of last season, an injury that required surgery to reattach two tendons to the bone.

Rudolph checked in at 6-foot-6⅛ and 258 pounds, and scouts I talked to who were in attendance had him timed anywhere between 4.74 and 4.78 seconds in the 40-yard dash. That's not an exceptional time but is good enough for a player his size coming off an injury.

He also posted a 34.5-inch vertical jump and put up 19 reps on the 225-pound bench press, both solid numbers, but his performance during receiving drills was far more important to his draft stock.

Rudolph looked near 100 percent running routes, opening up well to catch balls outside his frame and showing fluidity in and out of breaks. He also showed the strong, natural hands that impressed us so much on film.

Rudolph is definitely a first-round talent and he's the top tight end on the board by a wide margin. His pro day showing eased concerns about his recovery, and he's building some late momentum as scouts get more comfortable with his health. Rudolph's size, receiving skills and inline blocking capability will allow him to be an every-down tight end at the next level.

He slipped a bit because of durability concerns, but Rudolph's workout solidified him as an early second-round prospect, and I would not be shocked if a team plucks him off the board late in the first round.

DT Williams holds steady

Fighting Irish DT Ian Williams (6-1¼, 319) improved his 40 time to the low-5.1 range after running 5.32 at the combine. His vertical was 28.5 inches, and he put up 32 reps on the bench press. Overall Williams has the size, strength and anchor to contribute as a nose tackle in a 4-3 front. His good initial quickness and ability as a run-stopper give him some value in the middle rounds.

Villanova OT Ijalana looks good

There was plenty of interest in the pro day workout of Villanova OT Ben Ijalana, who did not work out at the combine because of a sports hernia. Scouts in attendance report that Ijalana ran in the low-to-mid-5.2 range and appeared in good shape despite the injury.

Ijalana is not the tallest tackle prospect (6-3⅝) but he has long arms (36 inches) and reportedly showed during his workout the natural feet and easy movement we saw on tape. He has the agility to play left tackle in the NFL in my opinion, and scouts were impressed that he competed hard during a workout that ran more than 30 minutes.

Ijalana helped himself and is solidly in the early part of the second round. He could even come off the board late in the first.