The Vikings have signed the first two members of their 11-man 2021 draft class in fifth-round picks Ihmir Smith-Marsette and Zach Davidson. These moves come one day before the start of rookie minicamp on Friday.
Smith-Marsette, a wide receiver and kick returner out of Iowa, was the No. 157 overall pick in this year's draft. He signs a four-year, $3.8 million contract, including a $319K signing bonus, and will have a $740K cap hit as a rookie (numbers per Chris Tomasson).
Although he was just a fifth-rounder, there are reasons to be excited about Smith-Marsette's potential to take over the No. 3 receiver and kick returner roles in Minnesota. He is a dynamic athlete and route-runner who was hurt by poor quarterback play during his Hawkeyes career.
It also seems like he has the work ethic required to develop into a quality NFL player, based on his press conference after being selected. It'll be exciting to see how he looks at minicamp and, later this year, in training camp and preseason games. Smith-Marsette will compete with the likes of Bisi Johnson and Chad Beebe for snaps at receiver while looking to beat out fellow rookie Kene Nwangwu for the kick return job.
Davidson was selected 11 picks later at No. 168 overall. The lanky, athletic tight end prospect out of Division II Central Missouri gets a four-year, $3.78 million deal with a $302K signing bonus and a 2021 cap hit of $735K.
The most interesting and unique pick in this year's draft by the Vikings, Davidson was a star tight end and punter for the UCM Mules. He had 15 touchdown receptions in 2019 and has great speed, agility, and explosiveness at 6'7". Davidson will need plenty of development, but his upside is very intriguing. He'll be another one to watch at rookie minicamp and beyond.
Davidson will look to beat out Brandon Dillon for the Vikings' No. 3 tight end role this offseason. He's apparently focusing on that position for now, but who knows what could happen in the future in terms of using his punting ability?
The Vikings' other nine draft picks will likely sign their contracts in the coming weeks.
Update: The Vikings have also signed sixth-round defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman (No. 199 overall). He gets $3.65 million on his four-year deal, with a $175K signing bonus and a $704K cap hit this year. The Vikings want Twyman to get back down to 280 pounds to get some of his quickness back. He had 10.5 sacks in 2019 and could turn into an interesting piece on the D-line.
Stay tuned to this site for coverage of the Vikings' first rookie minicamp practice on Friday.
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