4 big plans that could go wrong for the Vikings in 2022

(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Danielle Hunter
(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Danielle Hunter /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports) Tyler Conklin /

Not replacing Tyler Conklin

Ben Ellefson, Johnny Mundt, and Zach Davidson.

These are the options available to the Vikings behind Irv Smith Jr. on the tight end depth chart after the franchise allowed Tyler Conklin to walk in free agency for the New York Jets.

This represents a monumental gamble from the Vikings. Smith has been seldom seen over the last year following meniscus surgery and asking the former Alabama standout to immediately come back to 100 percent is a big ask after missing the entire 2021 campaign.

Just how much the Vikings plan to utilize the tight end position in the passing game under Kevin O’Connell is debatable. Smith certainly has the athletic attributes to become a factor, but if further injury complications emerge, there is almost nothing to install confidence further down the pecking order.

Conklin was a serviceable player that accumulated 63 receptions for 593 receiving yards and three touchdowns last season. The Jets gave him a contract Minnesota couldn’t afford, but failing to prioritize an adequate replacement might come back to haunt them depending on how Smith returns.

Hopefully, Smith can get back up to speed and finally start realizing his immense potential. And make no mistake, the Vikings have doubled down on this scenario coming to fruition.