Why Irv Smith Jr. will be the Vikings TE1 by mid-season in 2020

(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) Irv Smith Jr.
(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) Irv Smith Jr. /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Irv Smith Jr. – Minnesota Vikings /

Smith will have a bigger role in 2020

It took Irv Smith Jr. a little bit of time to acclimate to the NFL game. The majority of his production came after week 6, as he began to figure out how to get open against NFL coverages. 31 of his 36 receptions came in weeks 6-17, as did both of his scores. With a full season under his belt and another offseason to prepare, Smith will be ready to roll week 1 and should see that production carry over to this season.

Not only will Smith be more prepared in year two, but he’ll also be on the field much more. Gary Kubiak will be committed to running the football this season. Dalvin Cook is his most explosive weapon, and he’ll rely on him to be the heart of the offense. Many of the run formations will come out of two tight end sets. The Vikings will surely look for Kyle Rudolph in the red zone in these scenarios, but if they want a big play, it’ll be Irv Smith Jr. who will be the primary target when the team is looking to push the ball down the field.

Kubiak could utilize Smith’s receiver-like ability and after getting the defense accustomed to the running attack, call a play-action that will see him matched up against a linebacker down the seam. That should lead to a big play for the offense and will be something the Vikings will look to do every week.