The ball may have been flying all over the place with heavy winds gusting across the practice field at TCO Performance Center, but that didn’t seem to bother Tyler Conklin, a fifth-round tight end from Central Michigan.
At Minnesota Vikings rookie mini camp, Conklin was one of the standouts – albeit in shorts and T-shirts. But he caught everything tossed in his direction by the undrafted free agent or tryout quarterbacks during drills and 11-on-11s.
Conklin, who caught 77 passes and 11 touchdowns over his final two college seasons, enters the NFL with a reputation for having good hands and versatility.
“I think the fact that I can move around all over the field,” Conklin said. “With the way the tight end position has changed now-a-days, I feel like I can line up inline. I feel like I can line up in the slot. I can line up out wide. I feel like I can do everything a tight end needs to do….I can be a mismatch, a chess piece.”
If recent history means anything, Conklin may have landed in the right spot with John DeFilippo as his offensive coordinator. Last season the Eagles used three tight ends and starter Zach Ertz was the team’s top receiver. The Vikings will likely have multiple tight end sets with the TEs being asked to play in many different alignments.
“The moving around, to have me being inline, being in the slot, being out wide, that is what I did in college,” Conklin said. “I was in a pro style, spread, no-huddle so I moved all over the field. So coming here the first day and moving around like that makes me extremely excited.”
An opportunity exists for the fifth-rounder to make an impact right away with Kyle Rudolph solidified as the No. 1 pass-catching tight end and David Morgan set in his role as a blocking specialist.
Rudolph mentioned feeling like the elder statesman in the room despite being 28 years old. Conklin, 22, isn’t likely to help him feel any younger.
“I have been watching [Rudolph] since I was younger,” Conklin said. “I watched him at Notre Dame. Just to be able to come in here and learn from a tight end that is as established as him, two-time Pro Bowler as you said, I am extremely excited to just pick his brain and just watch him, and see the things he does and adapt them to my game.”