Player No. 4
Irv Smith Jr. - TE (2019 - 2022)
With their second-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Vikings made an intriguing decision to select tight end Irv Smith Jr., formerly of Alabama.
Veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph was still on Minnesota's roster at the time, so most assumed Smith would spend a year or two learning behind him before eventually taking over as the team's top tight end.
Coming out of the draft, Smith was viewed as someone who was in the form of what the tight end position has evolved into today. He was highly athletic, he could run routes like a wide receiver, and he could deliver a block when needed.
Smith's first two seasons with the Vikings were decent, but they were nothing to go crazy about. Following the departure of Rudolph in 2021, Smith was going to finally get his shot to be Minnesota's top tight end.
He had a great training camp in 2021, and everything seemed like it was lining up for him to have a breakout performance during the upcoming season. However, Smith suffered a significant knee injury in the 2021 preseason, which forced him to miss the entire regular season.
It was certainly a letdown, but Smith kept his head up and returned in time to get back on the field for the 2022 season. For whatever reason, though, things still didn't click in 2022, and once again, he had to miss a chunk of the season due to an injury.
With Smith injured again, the Vikings decided to make a trade with the Detroit Lions for Pro Bowl tight end T.J. Hockenson in the middle of the 2022 season. This was the beginning of the end for Smith in Minnesota, who ultimately parted with the franchise when he became a free agent in 2023.