2019 NFL Draft: Vikings add Irv Smith Jr. to offense with the 50th pick, boosting Kirk Cousins' weapons
The Vikings grab some help at tight end with Smith, a player who could eventually replace Kyle Rudolph
With the No. 50 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Vikings selected Irv Smith, Jr., tight end out of Alabama. Impressive yards-after-the-catch tight end with H-back size. Flashes of strength as a blocker but best split out in the slot for a mismatch advantage against nickel corners or linebackers. Decent athlete for the position with reliable hands.
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Pete Prisco: I like this pick. Look, here's the deal, he can block. There aren't a lot of tight ends that can block and catch. This guy is a complete tight end. Irv Smith will block, so I think that makes him an impact player right away.
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Dave Richard: Smith passes the eyeball test with a wide, strong body (6-foot-2, 242 pounds). He also has quality hands but leaves a little to be desired otherwise. I thought he was a little too inconsistent in his separation and his route-running, and for a dude as big as this he's not a tackle-breaker. The good news is that he's got a year to brush up on all of these things since he'll be the understudy to Kyle Rudolph in 2019 and then replace him in 2020 when Rudolph's contract expires. Fantasy owners are going to have to be patient, but it's for the best because I don't think he's ready to contribute in a big way so soon. He'll go undrafted in seasonal leagues and fill in as a late-round pick in long-term keeper formats. He'll also be a top-15 pick in rookie-only drafts.
NFL comparison: Trey Burton
Chris Trapasso: Burton went undrafted out of Florida as an H-back type who specialized after the catch. Smith is likely to be the third tight end off the board but is another very small tight end prospect who you want to get the football underneath to let him create after the catch. They tested similarly at the combine. And, like Burton, in the correct scheme with that niche role, Smith Jr. can be a quality pass-catching option in the NFL.
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