Central Michigan tight end Tyler Conklin is headed to Minnesota.
The Chippewas’ acrobatic pass catcher and blocker became the second prospect from the MAC to be selected in the 2018 NFL Draft, as the Vikings claimed him with the 157th pick.
Conklin’s senior season in Mount Pleasant began as a nightmare. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound tight end suffered a Jones fracture in his left foot during a preseason practice in August. But upon returning five games later, Conklin was a force to be reckoned with.
His presence was felt immediately in his first game back, a 27-24 upset victory over the Ohio Bobcats. Conklin hauled in 10 catches for 136 yards and two touchdowns in the win and finished the season with 28 receptions, 406 yards, and five touchdowns in just eight contests. He was selected as a Third-Team All-MAC honoree in December and invited to the Reese’s Senior Bowl in January. In the all-star game, Conklin recorded two catches, 20 yards, and one touchdown for the North.
Conklin’s kicked off his college career in a different sport, playing Division II basketball at Northwood University in Midland, MI. Then, he transferred to Central Michigan, where he saw three years of on-the-field action. Like many tight ends, his former basketball prowess is obvious on the field. He can snag jump balls in the end zone like a rebounder and consistently utilizes his size advantage when guarded by smaller defenders.
The tight end was the X-factor in Central Michigan’s 30-27 landmark upset over Oklahoma State in 2016. In Stillwater, he finished seven catches, 96 yards, and two touchdowns (highlight reel).
He is the first Chippewa selected in the draft since the Cowboys chose Kavon Frazier in the sixth round in 2016. Also, Conklin was the 12th tight end announced at the 2018 NFL Draft.
As a Viking, Conklin likely enters the depth chart behind two-time Pro Bowler Kyle Rudolph, who finished with 57 catches, 532 yards, and eight touchdowns in a stellar 2017. David Morgan II and Blake Bell are the other tight ends on the roster, although both received limited action a year ago. Conklin functions best in a pro offense as a pass catching tight end, but can develop to be a capable blocker as well.
Follow Conklin’s professional journey at the Daily Norseman, SB Nation’s Minnesota Vikings blog.