EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings saw a player they liked and went after him.
Minnesota traded up 10 spots in the fifth round to grab Central Michigan tight end Tyler Conklin with the 157th overall pick.
As a senior in 2017, Conklin played in eight games – and started five – after missing the first five with an injury. The team captain was named Third-Team All-MAC after recording 35 catches for 504 yards and five touchdowns.
Conklin received an invite to the 2018 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, where he caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from Wyoming QB Josh Allen, whom the Bills drafted at No. 7 overall.
Here are five things to know about Conklin:
1. Central Michigan standout
After playing basketball for one year at Northwood University, Conklin transferred to Central Michigan.
In a draft diary series for the Detroit Free Press, Conklin said, “Honestly, as soon as I made the transition from basketball to football, I thought reaching the NFL was possible.”
From 2015-17, Conklin played 34 games and totaled 83 catches for 1,159 yards. He made 11 starts as a junior in 2015, ranking third on the team in receptions (42) and receiving yards (560), and he was named the Chippewas’ Offensive Newcomer of the Year.
*2. Football is family *
Conklin isn’t the only football player in his family.
His younger brother, Trevor, is a junior linebacker at Central Michigan. When Tyler declared for the NFL Draft, Trevor said he plans to switch to No. 83, Tyler’s former number.
“I always believed in him,” Trevor said in the Central Michigan student publication. “I know how he is. He’s a fierce competitor, and I knew he would be a great football player.”
*3. Valuable vertical *
Conklin has quite the reach.
He posted a 38-inch vertical jump at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, which ranked second among all tight ends.
Conklin also impressed in other areas of the on-field skills testing. He tied for fourth among tight ends with a broad jump of 10 feet, ranked fifth with a 7.13-second 3-cone drill and ranked ninth in the 40-yard dash, clocking in at 4.8 seconds.
4. Benefits of playing basketball
Although Conklin ultimately decided to stick with football, he believes his skills as a basketball player apply on the gridiron.
“I think the main thing is the ball skills. Ball skills and body control, those are big,” Conklin said. “And the 50-50 balls. I think basketball, you’re going up, you’re grabbing rebounds. You’re just reacting, especially when you’re going up to get a rebound and stuff like that, so I think that translates really well to football.”
During his podium session with media at the combine, Conklin emphasized the common trend of basketball players excelling at the tight end position. Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph also impressed on the basketball court.
“[That’s] definitely something that kind of motivated me by doing this, seeing some of the people that played basketball at the college level and made the jump,” Conklin said.
*5. Michigan to Minnesota *
Conklin will be staying in the Midwest.
The tight end hails from Chesterfield, Michigan, and excelled as an athlete at L’Anse Creuse High School.
Conklin joins Eric Wilson as the second Michigan native on the Vikings roster. Conklin grew up fewer than 50 miles from Wilson’s hometown of Redford.
View images of Central Michigan TE Tyler Conklin.