Vikings 2019: Way too early 53-man roster projection

(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) Kirk Cousins
(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) Kirk Cousins /
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(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Irv Smith Jr.
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Irv Smith Jr. /

Tight Ends (4)

  • Starters: Kyle Rudolph, Irv Smith Jr.
  • Backups: David Morgan, Tyler Conklin

The tight end position has created some offseason drama as the Vikings drafted Alabama tight end Irv Smith Jr. in the second round last month. That move has raised plenty of questions about veteran Kyle Rudolph, who is entering his contract year at age 30. On the surface, it appears that Smith will be the replacement for Rudolph in 2020 (and they may be right), but the two players can also co-exist on the field to give the Vikings another wrinkle in their offense.

While Rudolph has held down the traditional tight end role in Minnesota for the better part of a decade, Smith can do some things that Rudolph can’t. If the Vikings use Smith at fullback and possibly as a wide receiver, it can clear things up for Rudolph in the middle of the field and give the Vikings a boost. Of course, this process will play itself out through OTAs and training camp.

Behind those two are David Morgan and Tyler Conklin, with Morgan’s role safe due to his superior blocking. It’s unknown whether the Minnesota Vikings would be open to keeping four tight ends on the roster, but it’s possible that they don’t want to give up on Conklin after one bad season. With Kubiak known to run many two tight end sets, there may be room for Conklin on the roster despite the addition of Smith.