Smith is ready to breakout
Irvin Martin Smith Jr. is a guy with the letters “TE” listed next to his name on a depth chart, but, in effect, he is merely a more-muscular wide receiver. Smith has a receiver’s height, Jarvis Landry’s speed, approximately 20-30 extra pounds of bulk than a typical wideout–and, in 2019, hands that proved quite reliable. In 47 targets, he dropped one pass.
The previous statements are not to prognosticate that Irv will be moved to wide receiver on the Vikings 2020 depth chart. But with Gary Kubiak spearheading the offense, Smith will likely be targeted habitually. If the names Shannon Sharpe, Owen Daniels, Dwayne Carswell, or Jeb Putzier ring a bell, it’s because these are tight ends that were heavily implemented in Kubiak-run offenses.
If further evidence is needed as to the capabilities of Irv Smith Jr., examine his performance last season. The rookie tight end grabbed 36 receptions as a 21-year-old in his first season. Perhaps that does not sound all that breathtaking, but consider this: the only tight ends in NFL history to catch more passes in an age-21 season are Aaron Hernandez (45 receptions) and Rob Gronkowski (42 receptions). In a comparison sans off-the-field life choices, this is elite company.
Smith Jr. will be utilized even more in 2020 and will help fill the target void that the loss of Stefon Diggs inevitably creates.