Alabama in the Pros

WATCH: Vikings’ TE Irv Smith Jr. scores TD in NFL Preseason debut

© Ben Ludeman - USA TODAY Sports

Another alumnus of the University of Alabama made its presence felt in preseason action for the National Football League. After Mack Wilson took an interception back for a touchdown for the Cleveland Browns, tight end Irv Smith Jr. recorded his first score for the Minnesota Vikings. 

A native of New Orleans, La., Smith was taken in the second round (No. 50 overall) by the Vikings in this year’s draft. The 6-foot-2, 242-pounder put together a smooth performance at the NFL Scouting Combine — clocking a 40-time of 4.63 seconds, displaying a 32.5” vert and maneuvering through the gauntlet drill with ease.

He was not the freakish athlete that O.J. Howard was, size wise, but Smith created massive production with Tua Tagovailoa. 

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The former four-star totaled 44 catches for 710 yards with seven scores through 15 games last season.

While his touchdowns set the school’s single-season mark for tight ends, Smith averaged 16.1 yards per catch.

Twenty-eight of his 44 grabs (64 percent) went for first downs or scores, and 11 of his catches (25 percent) resulted in plays of 20+ yards.  

He was named second-team All-American via the American Football Coaches Association and second-team All-SEC from the league’s coaches. As one of the top tight ends in the draft, Smith showed supporters of the Vikings what they should expect all year.

In his preseason matchup against Seattle, he caught all five passes thrown to him for 28 yards – including a 3-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter from Sean Mannion that tied the game at 10. 

He was one of three targets lined up at the bottom of the formation, and whether there was busted coverage by the Seahawks or Smith making a quick move, he was wide open. 

Mannion found him in the end zone and the celebration began. 

The combination of Smith and Kyle Rudolph should prove to be prolific for Kirk Cousins at quarterback, especially with how Minnesota wants to make a run in the playoffs.  

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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