EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings added just one wide receiver in the 2021 NFL Draft, but did so in a big-play way with the addition of Ihmir Smith-Marsette.
The former Iowa standout was the 157th overall pick in the fifth round and was the 21st overall receiver off the board.
Here are five things to know about the new Vikings receiver.
1. A double threat
Smith-Marsette was a wide receiver and kick returner at Iowa, earning Honorable Mention All-Big Ten at both spots as a senior in 2020.
He caught 25 passes for 345 yards (13.8 yards per reception) and four scores while adding 54 rushing yards and a score on seven carries (7.7 avg.) in seven games. The receiving yards led the Hawkeyes, and his receptions total ranked second on the team during a reduced season.
Smith-Marsette also returned eight kickoffs a total of 176 yards (22.0 yards per return).
2. Skills as a WR
Smith-Marsette showed plenty of promise as a wide receiver with the Hawkeyes.
He totaled 110 career catches for 1,615 yards and 14 scores in 44 career games.
Smith-Marsette told the Twin Cities media after he was drafted that he wants to show what he can do as a receiver.
"I always view myself as a receiver first, that's excellent at returning kicks. I can do punt return, too," Smith-Marsette said. "I definitely see myself as a wide receiver first and then a return man after that, but I'm somebody that takes pride in the return game, too."
View photos of Iowa WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette who was selected in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
3. Good on a promise
Smith-Marsette made a bold proclamation before his junior season in 2019, guaranteeing that he would return a kickoff for a score that season. He made good on that promise in Iowa's final game with a 95-yard score against Nebraska.
Smith-Marsette finished his career with 1,520 career kickoff returns yards and a pair of scores.
And much like his bold claim back in the day, he made another strong statement after being drafted.
"I feel as though I was the best player in the draft when it comes to returning the ball," Smith-Marsette said. "That's another strong suit of mine. I feel like I'm coming in there and I'm going to make an immediate impact in the return game and then work my way into the offense."
4. A diverse sports background
Smith-Marsette was praised for his body control as one of his top traits heading into the draft.
The 22-year-old said a diverse athletic background growing up helped mold him as a fluid wide receiver.
Smith-Marsette said he excelled in track where he ran hurdles.
"Being a hurdler, you have to have tremendous body control when you're approaching an obstacle and be in control of your environment so you can move the way you want to when you need to," Smith-Marsette said.
He also credited a water polo background for his strength and toughness.
"I went to [prep] school for swimming, found out they had a water polo team." Smith-Marsette said. "I was in water sports so I said, 'Why not try it?' Tried it, fell in love with it. Could've taken that all the way, too. I feel like I was one of the better players in that sport.
"It teaches you patience, toughness; when you want to touch the bottom of the pool, you can't. It just keeps you going, and it's a lot of grit that comes from that game," Smith-Marsette added. "A lot of stuff people don't see underwater. It just teaches you toughness and grit. I loved it. It pretty much put me in the best shape to move on to football when I did. Being able to succeed off that."
5. A rare trifecta
Smith-Marsette thrust himself into the national spotlight in the final game of his junior season.
He was named the Offensive Most Valuable Player in the Holiday Bowl after scoring a rushing, receiving and kickoff return touchdown against Southern California.
He had two receptions for 46 yards and a touchdown and added two carries for 15 yards and a score. Smith-Marsette also found the end zone on a 98-yard return.
"It put me on the radar big-time," Smith-Marsette said. "A lot of people commented about my performance that game. That's not something that you can just do on the regular, I would say."
He became the second player in school history with a rushing, receiving and kickoff return touchdown in a single game.