Minnesota is clearly going all in on upgrading what was a decent offense in 2018, selecting center Garrett Bradbury in the first round of the NFL Draft and then taking tight end Irv Smith Jr. and running back Alexander Mattison in the second and third rounds, respectively.
At 6-foot-2, 237 pounds, Smith didn’t play much in 2017 at Alabama because he was stuck behind current Tampa Bay Bucs tight end O.J. Howard. But given a chance to play in 2018, Smith racked up 44 receptions for 710 yards and seven touchdowns, and the Vikings are planning to use his speed and athleticism all over the field.
“We believe Irv is a perfect fit for our new scheme in terms of a mismatch guy,” said Vikings Director of College Scouting Jamaal Stephenson, via the New Orleans Advocate. “He’s a guy we can move around. He can play wide, in tight, in the backfield. He has a lot of versatility and is a great kid.The Vikings selected running back Alexander Mattison with the final pick in the third round of the NFL Draft on Friday night after making four trades in the round to acquire more draft picks.
The 5-foot-11, 221-pound Mattison played three seasons at Boise State and rushed for 2,829 rushing yards and 33 touchdowns.Less than two months after losing a running back in free agency, the Vikings added a versatile piece to their backfield Friday night.
Minnesota used the 102nd overall pick — the final selection of the third round — on Alexander Mattison, a Boise State junior running back who led the Mountain West Conference in rushing in 2018.
Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman believes the 5-foot-11, 221-pound Mattison will bring a blend of power and speed to Minnesota’s backfield.
“One of the areas we thought we needed to make sure we covered was at running back, and a different type since we lost Latavius Murray [in free agency],” Spielman said. “Alexander Mattison is a big back that is very productive, can catch the ball very well out of the backfield.
“I know his ability to go forward on contact, a lot like Latavius did for us. I know his ability to catch the ball. I know his ability in pass protection, and I know we have to have multiple backs in this offense,” Spielman later added. “We wanted something that was similar to a Murray type, and we felt that Alexander can definitely do that.”
Mattison chatted with the Twin Cities media shortly after learning he was a Viking, and said his mindset on the field is to be “fast and physical.”
“I think my versatility [is key]. I also think I’m a smart football player, and I make great decisions when I’m on the field and am very instinctive,” Mattison said. “Along with that, [my] versatility kind of pays off, and that makes me the back that I am.”
You saw him run wild on the Blue, hurdling hapless defenders or steamrolling them on his way to the end zone. But there were times when Alexander Mattison heard that such dreams were impossible.
Growing up in San Bernardino, California, a city that often appears on those “most dangerous” lists, life was not easy. His family at times did not have a stable living situation. But now the former Boise State running back is on the verge of hearing his name announced at the NFL Draft.
“It’s pretty crazy to think about maybe being an inspiration, and it’s something I take pride in,” Mattison said. “I heard it when I was younger — ‘You’re never going to make it out’ — but here I am. It is possible, no matter what you do.”