Vikings add rookie tight end who caught 54 touchdowns in college

(Photo by Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)
(Photo by Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Minnesota Vikings announced on Friday that the team has agreed to a contract with rookie tight end Shane Zylstra.

Back in 2013, the Minnesota Vikings invited an undrafted rookie from Minnesota State to try out for the team. This guy was Adam Thielen, and despite not playing at the Division I level in college, he did enough to impress the Vikings and earn a spot on the team’s practice squad.

Bringing Thielen in back in 2013 turned out to be an excellent decision for Minnesota. All he’s done since then is develop into one of the best wide receivers to ever put on a Vikings uniform.

Well, this year, the Vikings are going to see if another pass-catcher from Minnesota State can follow in the footsteps of Thielen.

Minnesota Vikings sign record-breaking rookie tight end on Friday

On Friday, Minnesota officially announced the signing of former Minnesota State wide receiver, Shane Zylstra. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he is the younger brother of former Vikings pass-catcher, Brandon Zylstra (who currently plays for the Carolina Panthers).

And no, that is not a typo above either. Zylstra played wide receiver at Minnesota State, but the Vikings will be converting his 6-foot-5, 230-pound frame into a tight end.

It’s an interesting decision, but it’s something that could give Minnesota a matchup advantage when Zylstra is out on the field. He’ll be able to overpower opposing defensive backs when the ball is up in the air, and when he’s going up against linebackers, his route-running abilities should help him gain more than enough separation to get open.

His last season at Minnesota State was actually in 2019 and due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he was unable to work out for NFL teams after he went undrafted. Still, the Vikings were impressed enough in his skills that they decided to sign him this year.

The fact that Zylstra ended his career at Minnesota State as the school’s all-time leader in catches (227), receiving yards (4,297), and receiving touchdowns (54) probably played a small part in the Vikings signing him on Friday as well.