Rookie tight end Irv Smith Jr. catches on quickly in Vikings ...

Going into the 2020 season there is a lot of buzz around two members of the 2019 rookie class tight ends, T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant. However, one key member of this class continues to be overlooked and that is Irv Smith Jr. of the Vikings.

2019 Recap:

During his rookie season Smith was in a Vikings offense that was 30th in pass attempts with only 466 attempts, tight-ends saw more than a 20% target share with Smith seeing close to 50% of tight end targets. His biggest competition was Kyle Rudolph who posted a very similar season to Smith.

Player NameReceptionsTargetsYardsTouchdownsPPR Points
Irv Smith Jr.3747311279.1
Kyle Rudolph39493676113.7
2019 Season Statistics

The biggest difference between their seasons is in the touchdown department. The four touchdown difference netted Rudolph a finish of Tight-End 14 (TE14) and Smith a finish of TE33.

Over the course of the season the confidence the Vikings had in Smith grew as weeks 9-16 Smith saw 28 of his 47 targets on the season while playing at least 65% of snaps in five of the seven games and at least 60% of the snaps in all seven games. Of those 28 targets, eight of them were Red Zone targets, which led the team in that span.

Additonally, Smith ran more passing routes than Rudolph in that span (163 to 147) and was used in the slot 63.7% in respect to Rudolph’s 16.6%.

2020 Outlook & Projections

Going into the 2020 season the Minnesota Vikings have a total of 110 vacated targets. With a healthy Adam Thielen and incoming rookie Justin Jefferson some of those targets will be distributed to them. Smith’s second half usage as well as using 12 personnel (two tight end sets) at the second highest rate in the league (34.9%) suggest that Smith will be on the field a lot more and command a much more significant target share.

Going into his second season the Irv Smith breakout may be a year early. However, Rudolph did eclipse those numbers each of the three previous seasons prior to Smith entering the league, suggesting that these are attainable bench mark projections for Smith. Come round 14-15 if you see Smith on the board SMASH the draft button and you won’t regret it.

As the TE22 (209 overall) in PPR formats Smith is being viewed as an oversight going in the 17th round and has legitimate Top-10 upside this season. With all the stars aligning look for Smith to see close to 75-80 targets while leading the team in Red Zone targets.

Player NameReceptionsTargetsYardsTouchdownsPPR Points
Irv Smith Jr.55755886143.8
2020 Projections

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