TE Irv Smith - Minnesota Vikings
|6-4, 241||Born: 8-9-1998||College: Alabama||Drafted: Round 2, pick 2019|
2019 Week 3 vs OAK (3 / 3 / 60 / 0 rec)
There has not been much to celebrate for the Vikings through the air, but the emergence of Smith may be one of them. He broke out this week with 3 catches for 60 yards and led the team in receiving yards. He had a long catch and run down the side line for 26 yards and he continues to push Rudolph for playing time and targets in the offense. Smith seems to be clicking with Cousins more than Rudolph right now and we could see his playing time increase over the next few weeks if he continues to produce. The Vikings are very high on Smith and could move to him as the full-time starter before the season is over.
2019 Week 4 vs CHI (1 / 1 / 5 / 0 rec)
Smith was unable to build off of his big game a week ago. He had a single target and reception this week and did not challenge Rudolph for more playing time going forward. Smith projects out as the more athletic tight end but does not appear to be ready in this offense just yet. By the end of the season it will be Smith headlining the tight end group, but it is still too early to pass the torch.
2019 Week 6 vs PHI (2 / 2 / 29 / 0 rec)
The Vikings are starting to realize they have 2 good tight ends on their roster and are working to get both of them the ball. Rudolph still saw more work this week and will continue to be the number 1 tight end, but Smith showed why they drafted him in the 2nd round with a big 29-yard catch down the sideline. His only other target and catch went for no gain, but Smith showed he has big play ability and is not afraid to go up and get the ball. Smith is the tight end of the future for the Vikings and it is just a matter of when they want to make the switch to him and not it.
2019 Week 7 vs DET (6 / 5 / 60 / 0 rec)
When Adam Thielen went down with injury there was instantly more targets to go around in the offense and the Vikings needed someone to step up. Bisi Johnson did his part with 4 catches for 40 yards and a touchdown, but they needed more. Enter rookie Irv Smith who finished second on the team in receiving this week. Smith caught 5 of his 6 targets for 60 yards and helped the Vikings keep pace with the Detroit offense. He may not have found the end zone, but he helped extend drives and showed the offensive prowess that led to his high draft pick. Smith will continue to push Rudolph for playing time the rest of the season and has already surpassed him in yardage. Look for Smith to get his first career touchdown in the coming weeks as he plays a bigger role in the offense.
2019 Week 8 vs WAS (3 / 3 / 21 / 0 rec)
The numbers do not jump off of the stat sheet this week, but Smith continues to push for more playing time in the Viking offense. Smith caught all 3 of his targets and showed an ability to run complex routes. He has seen his snap percentage increase almost every week while Rudolph has started to see a decline. Smith's longest catch went for 11 yards against the Redskins and he looks to be one of the missing pieces in the Viking offense. Until a third receiver steps up, Smith should continue to see steady targets in the offense.
2019 Week 10 vs DAL (6 / 5 / 34 / 0 rec)
When asked who Cousins trusts as a third receiver behind Thielen and Diggs, his answer was Smith. The rookie is quickly becoming a favorite target of his quarterback and is seeing his usage increase every week. Rudolph may have come down with the 2 red zone touchdowns this week, but Smith is the tight end the Vikings like to use to move up and down the field. The rookie caught 5 of his 6 targets this week and the lone incompletion was very questionable as to whether or not the defender got there early and could have been pass interference. His longest catch went for 9 yards and he is proving to be a big body tight end that Cousins likes to find across the middle when he needs a short completion. Smith may fully overtake Rudolph by the end of the season as the primary pass catching tight end.
2019 Week 11 vs DEN (3 / 3 / 20 / 1 rec)
After closing ground and taking playing time away from Rudolph, Smith finally made good and caught his first touchdown of his young career. He has watched Rudolph score 5 touchdowns in their last 5 games and wanted to get in on the action. It was the Vikings first touchdown of the game and was a nicely thrown ball by Cousins to Smith who had a step on his man in the seam. The ball was delivered just before Smith went out the back of the end zone and set off the first 20-point deficit at half time come back in the last 99 such games in the NFL. Smith finished the day catching all 3 of his targets and had his longest catch go for 10 yards. The rookie tight end should play a big role in the offense the rest of the season and be the tight end of the future for the Vikings.
2019 Week 15 vs LAC (3 / 2 / 8 / 1 rec)
It was not the most productive game for Smith this week, but he made the plays that counted. He caught a 1-yard touchdown on the first drive of the game to give the Vikings an early lead. Cousins found Smith open over the middle for a contested catch. The defense sold out to stop the play action fake to Dalvin Cook and Smith made a diving catch in the back of the end zone. The play was reviewed to make sure he had possession of the ball before rolling out of bounds and was upheld as a score. His only other catch went for 7 yards as it was a very quiet game for the passing attack of Minnesota.
2019 Week 19 vs SF (3 / 3 / 39 / 0 rec)
It was not a great day for the Viking offense, but Smith took big steps forward to be the starting tight end. He caught all 3 of his targets with his big catch going for 21 yards. He outplayed Rudolph this week and gave Vikings fans a glimpse of their future. They took him in the 2nd round for a reason and are fully invested in using him going forward. It should be an interesting conversation with Smith next year in this offense and what sort of value he will have.