6 players the Vikings should have drafted instead of Irv Smith Jr.
By Chris Schad
Josh Oliver – TE
It’s funny seeing Josh Oliver on this list after the Vikings signed him to a three-year, $21 million contract this offseason. A blocking tight end out of San Jose State wouldn’t have fit the archetype the Vikings were looking for at the position, but it would have fit nicely with where they were at entering the 2019 season.
Mike Zimmer was still fuming over the pass-happy offense John DeFilippo installed during the 2018 season and promoted Kevin Stefanski to create a more grounded approach. With noted running game guru Gary Kubiak as a consultant, the Vikings ran the ball 476 times and ranked fourth in rushing attempts in 2019, creating a perfect scenario for Oliver to fit in.
Oliver has been one of the top road graders in football since entering the league, ranking sixth among all tight ends and second among qualifiers in Pro Football Focus’s run-blocking grades last season. Drafting Oliver would have allowed Rudolph to maintain his top role at tight end for a few seasons and could have created an even more explosive running game to complement Cousins.
After being selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the 69th overall pick in the 2019 draft, Oliver not only would have had Zimmer salivating, but it also would have saved the Vikings a few million dollars in free agency this offseason.