Vikings rookie WR named one of the top steals of the 2021 NFL Draft

(Photo byJeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports) Ihmir Smith-Marsette
(Photo byJeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports) Ihmir Smith-Marsette /

Should the Minnesota Vikings expect rookie wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette to have a pleasantly surprising performance in 2021?

Heading into the 2021 NFL Draft, some felt the Minnesota Vikings should use one of their early-round selections on a prospect who could come in and take over as the team’s new No. 3 wide receiver next season.

Well, the Vikings did end up drafting a receiver this year. However, the selection didn’t take place until the fifth round when they decided to use a pick on former Iowa pass-catcher Ihmir Smith-Marsette.

Despite not coming off of the board until the fifth round, there are some who believe Smith-Marsette could make an immediate impact for Minnesota in 2021.

Rookie receiver predicted to be a difference-maker for the Minnesota Vikings in 2021

Recently over on, Sayre Bedinger declared that the Vikings got a steal of a draft pick when they selected Smith-Marsette in the fifth round.

About Minnesota’s rookie pass-catcher, Bedinger wrote that he was “one of the most versatile and dynamic receivers in the Big Ten over the past three seasons.”

Here’s a little more of what Bedinger had to say about Smith-Marsette.

"“Smith-Marsette is a huge threat with his vertical speed, and defenders have to respect it, so he is able to win underneath cushion with tremendous quickness in his breaks.Early on, Smith-Marsette should be a game-changing kickoff returner for the Vikings. If he isn’t immediately in the rotation at receiver, we will almost assuredly see him make an impact on special teams.”"

If all Smith-Marsette is able to do in his rookie season is make a difference as a kick returner, then that’s still a win for the Vikings.

Minnesota’s special teams were terrible in 2020, including their ability to return punts and kicks. If the rookie receiver can provide a spark for the Vikings on special teams like Bedinger believes he can, then it could have a significant impact on Minnesota’s ability to compete for a spot in the playoffs next season.

It would really just be icing on the cake if Smith-Marsette can also emerge as the third receiver on the Vikings’ depth chart. His ability to stretch the field and draw the attention of the opposing defense would make life so much easier for fellow Minnesota pass-catchers Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen.

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Expectations aren’t terribly high for Smith-Marsette as a rookie. But he definitely has the talent to exceed his expectations by a wide margin.