Vikings have big plans for TE Irv Smith, but history suggests patience

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That ability in the passing game has been evident over the past month, but his work as a run-blocker, an area where rookie tight ends often struggle, has caught some coaches off guard.

"We saw a smaller (6-foot-2, 242 pound), athletic player but he's really, on the line of scrimmage, has surprised some people, so we want our guys to be versatile and do a little bit of everything," assistant head coach Gary Kubiak said.

Smith packs a ton of potential and is expected to have a sizeable role early in his NFL career. He's classified as an F tight end given the way he can affect the passing game in a hybrid receiver role along with what he can do as an in-line blocker or when lined up as an H-back or fullback. The expectation is that he'll develop into the rare complete tight end who will be a "big part" of the system Kubiak and offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski are running, according to general manager Rick nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Tight ends have accounted for an average of 23% of targets in Kubiak’s offenses over his 21 seasons as a head coach or offensive coordinator. Often, the No. 3 receiver is actually a tight end in his offense.3

The Vikings have big plans for Smith, but history suggests that it will take a year or more for him to put up big numbers.

Over the past 16 years, only two rookie tight ends have produced more than 600 yards receiving: the Giants' Evan Engram, who had 722 yards in 2017 and John Carlson, formerly of the Seahawks, who had 627 yards in 2008.

Ravens tight end Mark Andrews came close to that figure last season, totaling 552 receiving yards on 34 catches and three touchdowns in his first year. There was a considerable drop-off from Andrews' production to the next group of rookie tight ends with the Eagles' Dallas Goedert notching 334 receiving yards and four nfl jerseys china nike

The transition from college to the NFL poses challenges at any position, but particularly at tight end. Though the Vikings drafted Smith with the idea that he'll be a critical asset in Year 1, tight end is not considered a plug-and-play position.

"The transition, it's not an easy one," said Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph, a nine-year veteran. "There's so many factors that go into our production. Wide receivers are paid to catch the football. It doesn't matter what's going on with the team, it doesn't matter what's going on with the offense, you throw the ball to wide receivers.

"Tight ends, our position has so many different variables that decide production in the pass game. You add all that together -- who knows what situation you're placed in? Are you staying in and protecting more? What kind of routes are you running? Players in college aren't putting their hand in the ground and expected to block Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter. You're not running routes against safeties like we go against every day that can actually cover."

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