No need for the Vikings to draft a tight end in the first round

(Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images) Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson
(Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images) Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson /

There seems to be a chance that the Minnesota Vikings could take a tight end with their first-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft. This shouldn’t even be a consideration.

Currently, Cole Hikutini and Tyler Conklin are the only tight ends under contract after this upcoming season for the Minnesota Vikings. Kyle Rudolph and David Morgan are both entering the final year of their current deals with the Vikings.

Based on this, many have tight end as one of Minnesota’s top needs heading into the 2019 NFL Draft. The Vikings adding a young tight end to their current group during this year’s draft seems likely, but it’s not a position the team should be using their first-round selection on.

There are some tight end prospects that have been given first-round grades this year including Iowa’s Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson. Since the position is not a vital need, however, Minnesota should not be calling Fant or Hockenson’s name if they’re still available when the team goes on the clock at pick No. 18 in the first round.

If the Vikings went ahead and traded Rudolph between now and the start of the first round of the draft on Thursday, then adding a tight end with their first pick would actually be a legitimate possibility. But since he’s still on Minnesota’s roster as of Monday, drafting a tight end with their top draft selection would be a big mistake for the team to do this year.

Just look at the top five tight ends in the NFL last season. Of the five tight ends that had the most catches in the league last year, not a single one of them was drafted in the first round. All of them (Zach Ertz, Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Austin Hooper, and Jared Cook) were selected in round two or later of the draft.

If one were to look even a little deeper and examine the top 20 tight ends of 2018 in terms of receiving yards, only five were drafted in the first round. The return on the investment that a team makes when selecting a tight end in the first round is really just not worth it.

If the Vikings opted to not add an offensive lineman with their first pick in the draft this year, then that is fine (especially if it would result in them reaching for a certain blocker). But going with a tight end instead of an offensive lineman is a mistake that could ultimately end up costing people their jobs in Minnesota.

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So as much as some would love to see the Vikings go after one of the two Iowa tight ends or another tight end prospect with their first pick this year, the team is much better off waiting until after the first round to add to the position group.