5 Minnesota Vikings players with something to prove in 2020

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) Adam Thielen
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) Adam Thielen /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Irv Smith Jr. /

Irv Smith Jr. – TE

Irv Smith Jr. was drafted by the Vikings in the second round of the 2019 draft. He was seen as a much more explosive weapon at tight end than Kyle Rudolph and he did show some big-play ability as a rookie last year.

Smith finished his inaugural season with 36 catches for 311 yards and two touchdowns. His most explosive play went for 29 yards, but he did have a few other big-gainers that were called back due to penalties.

With Stefon Diggs now in Buffalo, Minnesota will be looking to replace the explosiveness he brought to the offense. They’ll look to rookie receiver Justin Jefferson to help with that, but they’ll also rely on this guy to provide some big plays in 2020.

Vikings offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak loves to use two tight ends sets and he could easily send this big, speedy target on some go routes this year.

The majority of Smith’s production came in the second half of the season. This shows that he began to better understand Minnesota’s offense and his role in it.

It took him some time to get acclimated to the NFL, but now that he’s been in the league for a year. He should be ready to explode from day one this season. The Vikings will need Smith to prove he’s a playmaker so opposing defenses aren’t just concerned about stopping Adam Thielen and Dalvin Cook in 2020.