The Vikings, in the fifth round of the NFL draft, elected to round out their tight end depth with the selection of Tyler Conklin, a Central Michigan alum without a lot of draft steam in a class that wasn’t nearly as spectacular as last year’s.
Nevertheless, Conklin comes somewhat well-recommended using the analytical formulas we’ve been deploying throughout the draft process to evaluate draft picks and big boards. The Vikings emphasized his natural athletic ability when talking him up, and that’s fair — it’s his most important quality.
Conklin is very athletic, even if his 40-yard dash time is only a bit better than average for a tight end of his height and weight.
More importantly, he’s athletic in just the ways that matter for tight ends. Though it’s better if he runs a 40-yard dash a little faster than 4.76 seconds, his fast 20- and 10-yard splits make up for it and suggest potential up the seam as well as explosiveness in quick bursts.
For receiving capability, the 40-yard dash, 20-yard split, vertical leap, three-cone and height historically matter. Naturally, Conklin doesn’t have the height and his 40-yard dash is only “OK”, but his scores in the other areas are fantastic. For run-blocking, “density” – that is weight for height, as well as height itself matter — and those drag down his athletic score as it relates to blocking. Nevertheless, he receives boosts for his 10-yard split, short shuttle and vertical leap.
Overall, that gives him an athletic grade well above average, though the tight ends that have been superstars — largely — have had more height, weight and a better 40.
As for production, nothing stands out as particularly egregious, but it doesn’t speak to a star-in-the-making. The average tight end in the class accounted for 15.8 percent of their team’s yards and they ranged from 37.8 percent (Mark Andrews) to 2.2 percent (Jordan Thomas). Conklin’s market share of 15.2, then, is slightly lower than his contemporaries.
For the most part that’s fine; the Vikings intend to unlock upside instead of installing a day-one starter, and he certainly has that. But it does mean we don’t have a production-oriented reason to believe in day-one impact contributions.
All analytic scores are meant to be read like an IQ chart, with 100 being average and every 15 points in either direction representing one large tier.
PRODUCTIVITY SCORE: 97.4 | ATHLETICISM SCORE: 117.5 | AGE SCORE: 101.8
FINAL SCORE: 104.6
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