4 things to expect from the Vikings tight ends in 2020

(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) Irv Smith Jr. and Kyle Rudolph
(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) Irv Smith Jr. and Kyle Rudolph /
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Minnesota Vikings
Irv Smith Jr. #84 of the Minnesota Vikings (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

What type of relationship and dynamic can one expect from Minnesota Vikings tight ends Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith Jr. in 2020?

The 2019 Minnesota Vikings were one of four NFL teams to feature two tight ends with 35+ receptions apiece. The other three teams to do this were the Tennesee Titans, Philadephia Eagles, and Los Angeles Rams. There is no reason to believe that the use of two commodities at tight end, like Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith Jr., will be lessened in 2020.

Why? In the 2019 NFL Draft, Minnesota had depth chart needs at the offensive line [eternally], cornerback, and defensive tackle positions. Yet, the front office swerved and selected Alabama Crimson Tide tight end Irv Smith Jr. The Vikings already had longtime tight end Kyle Rudolph on the roster, so the Smith Jr. choice was a bit puzzling.

However, it was perplexing in a very exciting way. The Smith Jr. scouting report foreshadowed a TE-WR hybrid, a winning background at Alabama, and migraine headaches for opposing linebackers. His physical build can be described in two ways: Smith Jr. is an undersized tight end or he’s an oversized wide receiver. That’s the interchangeability we’re dealing with here.

More importantly, the Rudolph and Smith Jr. experiment in 2019 launched with mostly positive reviews. The men combined for 84 receptions, 678 yards, and eight touchdowns. That stat line is akin to what you could expect from former Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten in his mid-30s, but with more touchdowns for Rudolph and Smith Jr. This is mentioned only to prove the volume of production was evident last year.

So, where do the two men go from here? How will they coexist in 2020? Let’s find out.