From now on, when a team in the NFL has two above-average tight ends, they'll be immediately compared to the New England Patriots with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. This is often a poor comparison, due to the dynamics of the tight end position and the fact that generalizing is ... well, generally pretty silly. Unless you're dealing with the Minnesota Vikings and their combination of Kyle Rudolph and John Carlson.
The Vikings essentially invite that comparison. The Pioneer Press noted that the Vikings staff gave Rudolph video clips of ever tight end from the Patriots last season:
"If we can take both of those aspects of their game and implement it to what we're doing here, we have a chance to be successful," said Rudolph, the Vikings' second-round draft pick a year ago who has a similar build to Gronkowski at 6 feet 6 inches and 258 pounds.
Generalizations or not, Gronkowski and Hernandez were indisputably the best combination last season, and there's nothing wrong with trying to emulate it. After all, the two tight end set isn't a novelty or anything like that, nor did the Patriots invent it. They simply did it very, very well and showed what pieces you need to make it function.
Rudolph and Carlson are a long ways away from Gronkowski and Hernandez, but those two got where they are essentially over the course of a single season, so maybe the Vikings' tight ends can do the same thing. At the very least, an improved TE duo would certainly help the development of second-year quarterback Christian Ponder, especially with Jerome Simpson suspended for three games.
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