The Vikings went with TE Tyler Conklin with their first fifth-round pick, and Mike Zimmer said he’ll be used as a TE/FB/H-back in John DeFilippo’s offense, lining up just about anywhere in the backfield or inline.
By some rankings Conklin may have been over-drafted - he was way down the list of TEs and most Big Boards - in part due to medical concern over a foot issue he suffered a year ago- a Jones fracture. But he managed to run a 4.8” 40 despite whatever lingering issues he has with it, as well as a 38” vertical, and was among the better performers in the TE class in the shuttle drills and broad jump as well.
But the hybird H-back position is increasing in important among NFL offenses in recent years, and is also important in John DeFilippo’s scheme. Conklin was taken right after Troy Fumagalli, and 8 spots ahead of Jaylen Samuels, both of whom the Vikings had shown some interest in filling this spot. I suspect Conklin may be the better fit for the Vikings and DeFilippo’s scheme, being more of a TE than RB, and a more legit receiver than Fumagalli.
Anyway, let’s have a closer look at Conklin and what he brings to the Vikings.
Analyzing Tyler Conklin’s Game
Conklin’s tape (below) vs. the stats I see overall from PFF, present a bit of a dichotomy.
On the one hand, Conklin seems to be pretty adept at bringing in catches on tape. But on the other hand, his drop rate in college was 7.3% - pretty high.
Also, from the limited tape I’ve seen, Conklin seems fairly adept at blocking, particularly in ‘stalk blocks’ where he initially pretends he’s running a route, and other open field blocks. He also does okay with inline blocks as well, although there is room for improvement.
But both his run and pass block grades are fairly low from PFF. His scouting profile from Lance Zierlein is positive on his blocking skills as well, so there is definitely some differences - perhaps having to do with consistency.
I tend to favor what I see vs. what I read, but I certainly haven’t watched him every play of every game. But from what I’ve seen, he certainly looks capable of being a good pass-catching tight-end, and a good blocking back/TE as well.
This game below against Oklahoma State really shows what he can do as both a blocker and a receiver. Very good stuff.
The Ohio game is more just receiving, but still pretty good. Conklin ranks in the top 10 among all TEs in this draft class in terms of yards/route run (6th), deep (20+ yards) receptions (8th), and deep reception yards (8th), so he definitely has the ability to make catches downfield. He also could be a red zone threat with his basketball player body control, 6’3” frame and 38” vertical.
But I expect he’ll mostly be a guy defenses have to account for in the backfield or inline, and who’s versatility as both receiver and blocker could see him get some playing time as a key role player.