Do the Minnesota Vikings Have a Tight End “Problem”?

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Cincinnati Bengals
Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer-USA TODAY Sports

The “problem” is actually a good thing for the Minnesota Vikings, who currently have six tight ends on the roster, and they all have either proven their worth or have some potential upside in their respective roles. They all can’t be on the field, though, so who gets the playing the time?

Minnesota Vikings’ T.J. Hockenson expected to miss time but still put up over 1,000 receiving yards?

Although there’s six tight ends on roster, only three to four are expected to make the final 53. As it’s been hinted at over the last couple months, expect one of the best tight ends in the league, T.J. Hockenson, to start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, while he recovers from a torn MCL/ACL injury sustained last season. This will open up a roster spot for an additional tight end, at least until Hockenson is ready to return.

Per Alec Lewis (The Athletic), he still expects Hockenson to put up over 1,000 receiving yards this season, despite the games he’ll miss. If that’s the case, this would be pretty big for the Vikings offense and also signals that Hockenson will be back sooner rather than later for the 2024 NFL season.

TE T.J. Hockenson: Jogged on the side field this spring. Likely to miss some time at the beginning of the season, but I still wouldn’t bet against him putting up 1,000 yards.

Alec Lewis (The Athletic)

Robert Tonyan the No. 3 most targeted Minnesota Vikings’ pass catcher?

Robert Tonyan has been very impressive thus far for the Vikings this offseason. Not only has he flashed to the media, Lewis recently noted that he wouldn’t be blown away if Tonyan was the No. 3 most targeted Minnesota Vikings’ pass catcher until Hockenson returns.

TE Robert Tonyan: Would not be blown away if he was the No. 3 most targeted Vikings pass catcher until Hockenson returns. This spring, he was that frisky.

Alec Lewis (The Athletic)

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If Tonyan is No. 3 in targets for an early part of the season, he’d likely be on target to also finish with over 1,000 receiving yards given how head coach Kevin O’Connell wants the tight ends involved in his offense. That could put two tight ends over 1,000 yards to the end the season. If Tonyan is playing well, how will O’Connell allocate the snaps between Hockenson and Tonyan? A good “problem” to have if you’re O’Connell.

What about the other Minnesota Vikings’ tight ends?

Outside of Johnny Mundt, who O’Connell calls the “third best tight end in the league”, it’s unlikely any of the other remaining tight ends on the roster will get enough targets to sniff 1,000 receiving yards. Josh Oliver can catch, but he’s one of the top pass blocking tight ends in the league. Nick Muse, who’s spent most of his Vikings’ tenure on the practice squad, has three career snaps in the regular season, and lastly Trey Knox seems like a longshot to make the roster.

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In the end, we know what Hockenson can do when he’s healthy. His 78.8 overall Pro Football Focus (PFF) grade was 3rd best of 52 tight ends (minimum 25 targets) last season. Meanwhile, Tonyan seems to be turning heads so far this offseason. In a good way of course. We’ll see how things shake out over these coming months, but the Minnesota Vikings could potentially have a good “problem” at the tight end position later on in the season.

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