Irv Smith Jr. – TE
When it was announced that Kyle Rudolph was ruled out for this game, many fans were excited to see what the team’s younger tight ends could do. Both Irv Smith Jr. and Tyler Conklin had very good games in his absence, but Smith was just excellent all-around on Sunday.
With big-time receivers Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson in the game, somehow the scrappy young tight end led the team in receiving yards by catching four passes for 63 yards on four targets with one of those grabs being a touchdown.
Smith added his usually-solid blocking to the mix and ran a variety of routes to help out the Vikings against a smothering Bucs defense. He does the little things very well, and that matters a lot.
Watching him and Conklin on Sunday raises a big question: How essential is Kyle Rudolph with his massive contract to Minnesota’s future success? And is Smith being held back by being a backup? For now, it’s just nice to have three very good tight ends on the roster.