Irv Smith Jr. is the wild card for the Minnesota Vikings in 2022

(Photo by Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports) Irv Smith Jr.
(Photo by Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports) Irv Smith Jr. /
1 of 4
Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports) Irv Smith Jr., Minnesota Vikings /

Will 2022 be the year Irv Smith Jr. finally breaks through for the Minnesota Vikings?

It seems like Irv Smith Jr. is the looming question mark for the Minnesota Vikings every single offseason. After missing a full season due to injury, that is once again the case as the Vikings shift to a new offense under Kevin O’Connell.

His absence in 2021 was hidden a bit by the emergence of Tyler Conklin who filled in nicely at tight end before cashing in a nice payday with the Jets this offseason. Now that the job is firmly his to lose, Irv Smith needs to take that massive leap that has been expected of him over the past two years.

The Vikings have an interesting group of weapons for Kirk Cousins even without Irv Smith in the mix. Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen are going to be their usual selves while K.J. Osborn stepped up to the challenge in his second season. Dalvin Cook can be helpful in the passing game as well.

Smith brings a different element of speed and athleticism to the offense in the middle of the field but he has yet to blossom into the player many had hoped he’d be. Heading into a huge year, Smith has to put it all together or the Vikings will be in a tough spot.

While their weapons are solid, they could always get much better. The idea of drafting a wide receiver in the first round this month is not as strange as it seems on paper. Minnesota will need a wide receiver next to Justin Jefferson sooner or later with Adam Thielen reaching the end of his career.

If they do not take a weapon early this season and Irv Smith Jr. does not take that leap, the offense is in danger of burning out. He is their ultimate wild card as the season draws closer.