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. /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) Irv Smith Jr. – Minnesota Vikings /

What has Irv Smith done in three seasons?

The Vikings drafted Smith in 2019 to serve as the backup to Kyle Rudolph before taking hold of the starting spot in his second season. He hauled in 36 passes for 311 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie but the writing was on the wall for Smith to be the guy heading into Year 2.

That second season in 2020 was not nearly as exciting as expected. Irv appeared in 13 games with seven starts and put up roughly the exact same numbers as his debut season. He finished with 30 catches, 365 yards, and five touchdowns.

Things were still looking up for Smith after a slow start to his career but he suffered an injury prior to last season that forced him to miss the entire year. The Vikings had no choice but to turn to Tyler Conklin as the starting tight end and he put up a better stat line than Irv Smith had done in his two years prior.

Conklin caught 61 passes for 593 yards and three touchdowns in his first season as a starter and that helped him earn a contract in free agency that will pay him handsomely. Irv Smith will have to put up a significantly better line in his 2022 season if he wants to return as the starter in 2023 and beyond.

It is frustrating that Smith dealt with an injury when he did last season because he was firmly in a position to have the starting job and was set to explode with Justin Jefferson taking some help to his side of the field. Minnesota was able to rely on Conklin when other options weren’t available and Smith would have been that guy had he been healthy.

He needs to put up a monstrous season for the Vikings to have an explosive offense next season but that is something he is capable of. Irv Smith can be the difference-maker for the Vikings in 2022.