You know how sometimes you get a gut feeling about something? Someone asks how you know, but you have no answer because it’s just a pure gut feeling.
That’s how I feel about tight end Irv Smith Jr.
Well, this is a new year for him. New team. New outcome.
Smith has been a backup throughout his young career thus far. 2020 proved to be his best year as he was third in receiving yards for the Vikings, only behind star wideouts Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, with 365 yards and five touchdowns. His success was cut short in 2021 when Smith went down with a meniscus injury and missed the season.
Throughout his young career, he has sat passenger seat to names like Kyle Rudolph, Tyler Conklin, and T.J. Hockenson.
The Bengals might not use utilize the tight end position as much as the Chiefs, Patriots, Ravens, or maybe the 49ers. But they do produce fan favorites.
Does anybody remember Tyler, Eifert, C.J. Uzomah, Jermaine Gresham, and most recently Hayden Hurst?
Smith came out of Alabama in ‘19 and has an exciting history playing against Burrow and Chase, considering the historic rivalry between Alabama and LSU. He knows how good they both are and how close the Bengals are to a ring. He also believes he can be a big part of that success.
He’s very aware that he now plays for an elite quarterback, and that’s who he wants to play with, and hopefully win with.
“He’s arguably the best quarterback, if not one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL…He has everything you want in a quarterback,” he told Cleveland.com.
With Hayden Hurst leaving, the Bengals were left with Devin Asiasi and Drew Sample. Now Smith is able to step into the role of No. 1 tight end. Be able to provide another set of hands down field for Burrow, as well as, another blocker for the run game, which we have lacked for several years.
Two years ago when the Bengals landed themselves in the Super Bowl, C.J. Uzomah racked up 493 yards and five touchdowns that season, then signed with the Jets.
Hurst stepped up last season, with another valiant postseason effort, along with 414 yards and two TDs, then signed with the Panthers.
Now, it’s time for Smith to step up. This coming season, I’m predicting he racks up a career-high 380 receiving yards to go with four touchdowns.
The ingredients are added. We can’t wait to see the final product.
Not only will it be a big year for the Bengals, but Irv Smith has a breakout year.
Fair warning, breakout years doesn’t necessarily mean stats. Keep an eye on big situations, key moments, and his reliability!