What stops a 6-foot-2, 242-pound tight end receiving threat from being a big-time rookie? How about a 6-foot-6, 256-pound veteran entering the last year of his contract? That's the conundrum Vikings rookie Irv Smith faces in 2019 when he plays behind Kyle Rudolph. At Alabama he was an oft-used starter in 2018, catching 44 passes for 16.1 yards per catch with seven scores in 15 games. The big-bodied weapon has big hands, solid speed and good enough strength. It doesn't mean he's NFL-ready, which is fine since he'll be Rudolph's understudy, but in time he should be a serviceable Fantasy tight end. That is, if the Vikings don't deal away Rudolph and rush Smith into the starter's role. That's the only way Fantasy fans would flock to Smith in seasonal drafts this summer. In long-term formats, look for him late unless it's a rookie-only draft, where he'll collect attention starting in Round 2.
Smith Jr. lined up all over the field during this week's OTA practice, from split out wide to in line next to the tackle, and drew praise from coaches for his performance, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. Kyle Rudolph was away from practice during the week and David Morgan is missing OTAs with an undisclosed injury, so Smith got extra work. Still, this shows how the Vikings may utilize Smith all over the field and find innovative ways to get him the ball.
The Vikings selected Smith Jr. in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft, 50th overall. The Alabama product is the third tight end off the board in this year's class. Smith Jr. lacks ideal size for an in-line tight end at 6-foot-2 3/8 and 242 pounds but he brings athleticism (4.63 40-yard dash) and pass-catching ability to the table. He earned second-team All-American honors as a redshirt sophomore, bringing in 44 receptions for 710 yards and seven scores in an explosive Alabama offense. Smith's fit with the Vikings as it stands is interesting considering Kyle Rudolph is under contract, although his time in Minnesota may be nearing an end. If Rudolph is gone by the start of the season, Smith would suddenly have a path to plenty of targets.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|2||09/15||@Green Bay Packers||8||5.50|
|5||10/06||@New York Giants||19||7.38|
|9||11/03||@Kansas City Chiefs||31||9.56|
|15||12/16||@Los Angeles Chargers||10||5.67|
|16||12/24||Green Bay Packers||8||5.50|