2021 NFL Draft: Minnesota Vikings select Iowa's Ihmir Smith-Marsette in the fifth round

Chad Leistikow
Hawk Central

The drought is over. Ihmir Smith-Marsette has become the first Iowa wide receiver chosen in the NFL Draft in nine years and just the second since 2002.

Smith-Marsette on Saturday was selected in the fifth round by the Minnesota Vikings with the 157th overall pick.

Now the slender speedster from New Jersey (who ran 4.43 seconds in the 40-yard dash on his pro day) will try to become the first former Hawkeye wide receiver to catch an NFL pass since Tim Dwight on Dec. 9, 2007.

Ihmir Smith-Marsette caught two long touchdown passes in the final game of his Iowa career, a 28-7 win against Wisconsin.

Hawkeye tight ends have done great at the next level. But receivers? Not so much. Even the program’s all-time leading receiver, Marvin McNutt, didn’t have an NFL catch after being taken in the sixth round of the 2012 draft by the Philadelphia Eagles.

What probably helped Smith-Marsette (6-foot-1, 179 pounds) get drafted is his ability to immediately contribute on special teams. He averaged 28.7 yards per kickoff return in his Iowa career, with two touchdowns. In an interview with the Des Moines Register last week, Smith-Marsette said he wanted to be a punt returner at Iowa but never was given the chance. He thinks he can be an asset in both areas at the next level.

“I’ll definitely be able to help the kick-return game, the punt-return game, all special teams,” he said.

Smith-Marsette was the offensive MVP of the 2019 Holiday Bowl, a game that showcased his versatile skills as he scored a touchdown rushing, receiving and on a kickoff return. The one-time Rutgers and Minnesota commit scored 20 touchdowns in his four-year Iowa career, including 14 through the air and four rushing. Smith-Marsette caught 110 passes for 1,615 yards and rushed 34 times for 274 yards.

Smith-Marsette is a home-run threat in the passing game and can fit as a No. 4 or 5 wide receiver to begin his NFL career.