It’s Irv Smith’s time to shine in Minnesota.
With veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph no longer in town, Smith is ready to step into the No. 1 TE role in 2021.
The former second-round pick told NFL Network’s Good Morning Footballon Thursday that he plans on having a break-out campaign.
“I have very high expectations, especially for myself,” Smith said. “I don’t want to put an exact number out there because I don’t want to say ‘I’m gonna score 15 touchdowns or however many,’ but it’s gonna be a lot. I’m going to be scoring a lot, making a lot of plays and helping my offense in any way, helping my team. I just want to be able to be a playmaker out there, whether it’s in the run game, pass game, scoring touchdowns, making a key block, whatever it is. I just want to, at the end of the day, win a Super Bowl and have the accolades that I want for myself at the end of the year.”
Without making predictions, Smith added that he hopes to soar past the 900-yard mark for the season.
Lets go! @swervinirvin_ @Vikings pic.twitter.com/N0tP3rZBnj
Coming out of Alabama, Smith was projected as an ideal modern-era tight end who can be a matchup nightmare against linebackers and defensive backs. The 22-year-old owns speed to run away from defenders and size, at 6-foot-2, to post up. The combo should help him gobble up scores in the red zone, especially without Rudolph to take some of those routes and targets.
As a rookie in 2019, Smith earned 311 yards and two TDs on 36 catches. Last year, he put up 365 yards and five scores on 30 receptions in 13 games.
His expectations would blow those numbers out of the water.
The offseason is always a time for optimism, particularly when it comes to player outlooks. But in Smith, it’s easy to see how he could enjoy a blow-up season with increased opportunity coming in Minnesota this year.
While coach Mike Zimmer talked up Tyler Conklin having a more prominent role this season, new OC Klint Kubiak said it’s Smith who is “going to have more opportunities.”
Given his skill set and pedigree, Smith should become Kirk Cousins’ No. 3 option behind Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen. How high Smith flies in 2021 will depend on what he makes of those opportunities.
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