EAGAN, Minn. —Tyler Conklin's senior season at Central Michigan didn't get off to the smoothest start, as he missed the first five games due to a broken foot.
But once the tight end hit the field, he showed his health was a non-factor.
The Vikings sent the 167th and 225th picks to get the 157th pick from the Jets to select Conklin after he caught 35 passes for 504 yards and five scores in 2017. He earned Third-Team All-MAC honors in 2017.
"When I first broke my foot, I wasn't sure how it was going to work out," Conklin said. "That was tough to begin the season for my senior year and miss my first five games, but after coming back, that was one of my goals to make happen.
"I came back and felt great and haven't looked back since," Conklin added.
Conklin was listed at 6-foot-3 and 254 pounds at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine, where he was one of the most athletic tight ends in Indianapolis.
His 38-inch vertical ranked second among tight ends, his 10-foot broad jump tied for fourth, and his 3-cone drill time of 7.13 seconds was fifth.
He also tied for third in the 20-yard shuttle (4.23 seconds) and was second in the 60-yard shuttle (11.43 seconds). Conklin ran the 40-yard dash in 4.8 seconds (ninth among tight ends) and bench-pressed 225 pounds 18 times (tied for fifth among tight ends).
He recorded 83 receptions for 1,159 yards and 11 scores in three seasons for the Chippewas, but began his college career as a basketball player at Northwood University.
Conklin said his basketball career helped him make the transition to the gridiron.
"One-hundred percent … being able to judge the ball, ball skills, being able to use your body," Conklin said. "I definitely think it's helped me throughout my career."
"I think it starts with my versatility," Conklin later added. "I'm a great route runner though. I think I can run routes from every position on the field."
Vikings Offensive Coordinator John DeFilippo was quarterbacks coach in Philadelphia in 2016-17 when the Eagles had success using formations with multiple tight ends.
Conklin said he talked to DeFilippo earlier this week and is excited to join Minnesota's diverse offense.
"We talked ball and went over some of the plays," Conklin said. "Just the way they use the tight ends now, obviously they have a two-time Pro Bowler in Kyle Rudolph, one of the best tight ends in the NFL.
"When you have a mismatch like that and the way they use him, it just makes me excited to come in there and use my versatility to play off of everybody and show that I can be a huge piece to the offense," Conklin added.
Conklin is the first Vikings draft pick in team history from Central Michigan.