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Vikings Trade Up to Select Tyler Conklin in 5th Round

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EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings on Saturday traded up in the fifth round to select Tyler Conklin out of Central Michigan.

Minnesota sent the 167th and 225th picks to get the 157th pick from the Jets.

The tight end caught 35 passes for 504 yards and five touchdowns in 2017. He totaled 83 receptions for 1,159 yards and 11 scores in three seasons for the Chippewas.

Conklin initially started college as a basketball player at Northwood University before transferring to Central Michigan and stepping on the gridiron.

The 6-foot-3, 254 pounder was a team captain and garnered a Third-Team All-MAC selection in 2017.

Conklin had quite a performance at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine. 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).

Conklin participated in a draft diaries series with the *Detroit Free Press *in which he explained his love for football to writer Dave Birkett.

I've played football since I was little. I started playing tackle football when I was 8 years old, and my brother, Trevor, and I always used to play in the front yard growing up, or even in the living room until we got in trouble. We always were competing against each other, and it was always a dream of ours to eventually make it to the professional level.

I went to college to play basketball at Northwood initially, but transferred to Central Michigan to play football in 2014. Honestly, as soon as I made the transition from basketball to football, I thought reaching the NFL was possible.

Below is his NFL.com Combine Profile:

Player Bio

It seems that every year more former basketball players are moving to the gridiron. Conklin signed with Northwood University in Michigan to play hoops but after playing sparingly for one season decided to transfer somewhere to play football. After one season on the scout team adding weight, he played in 13 games as a reserve, catching six passes for 95 yards. Conklin earned the starting job in 11 of 13 games as a junior, using his athleticism and soft hands to become a top short-yardage and red zone target for the Chippewas with 42 receptions for 560 yards and six scores. His production was down slightly in 2017, but the team captain still proved athletic enough to earn a third-team All-MAC selection after grabbing 35 passes for 504 yards and five touchdowns.

Overview

Conklin requires tape study from both 2016 and 2017 as his preseason foot injury appeared to create some limitations for him athletically. He's a capable receiver, but he isn't going to make a living as a pass-catching tight end. Conklin shows the aptitude and attitude to handle blocking duties inline or as a move tight end, but his draft stock could depend on his medicals and how he tests at the Combine.

Strengths

Fought back from severe foot injury in camp to make it back on field

His 2016 tape shows good acceleration into turns with ability to gain space vs

coverage

Uses smart changes of route speeds

Able to make contested catches over the middle

Former college basketball player with a feel for body positioning

Has awareness to drop feet in-bounds on catches that are tight to the sideline

Has talent and toughness to become a quality run blocker

Works well with his hands as run blocker

Rolls hips under his hands at point of attack and grinds to get defenders turned

Patient and effective with his combo blocks

Weaknesses

Suffered a "Jones fracture" to his foot that cost him first five games of the year

Never looked like he regained quickness or lateral agility of 2016

Lacks burst into routes

Slow to sink in space and open up square to his quarterback

Has a tendency to allow defenders to close out throws rather than working hard back to the ball

Ball skills were inconsistent

Unable to make sudden adjustments to throws and catch radius seemed limited

Has average play speed even when healthy

Needs to add more muscle to his frame to handle expected blocking duties

Sources Tell Us

"You have to watch him in 2016 to see how good his hands are. He had some crazy catches on his hype reel. I'm going to grade him off of 2016 instead of 2017 because that foot injury obviously slowed him up." -- NFC team regional scout

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