In his fifth NFL season, Eric Kendricks put together a career year for the Minnesota Vikings. He’s been very good for a number of years now, but his 2019 campaign is one that should have put him on the radar of people across the National Football League. At least one media outlet has finally taken notice.
Sean Wagner-McGough of CBS Sports has named Kendricks as the second-best “off-ball” linebacker in the National Football League, trailing only Bobby Wagner of the Seattle Seahawks. The “off-ball” distinction separates Kendricks from the kinds of linebackers that serve more as pass rushers, such as Von Miller and Khalil Mack.
Here’s what Wagner-McGough had to say about Kendricks:
The anchor of the Vikings’ defense, Kendricks has been a quality linebacker for a while now. But in 2019, he experienced a career season that vaulted him up this list. For the first time in his five-year career, he garnered a first team All-Pro selection, which was well deserved after a 110-tackle season that also included 12 passes defended. According to PFF, those 12 pass breakups represent ”the most we have ever seen over a season from that position.” He’s consistently one of the best coverage linebackers in football, which matters more in the modern pass-happy version of the sport.
Since he entered the league in 2015, he ranks fifth in combined tackles and second in pass defended among all linebackers. As the Vikings try to overcome the losses of several key contributors on the defensive side of the ball, they’ll need Kendricks to maintain his level of production in 2020. The good news is that there’s no real reason to expect a drop-off.
At the age of 28, after a career-best season, and entering his sixth NFL season, Kendricks is more likely to be entering his peak than his decline.
Kendricks is one of a host of Vikings that has signed lengthy contract extensions in recent years, so he’ll be patrolling things in the middle of the Minnesota defense for a long time to come. With Danielle Hunter on the defensive line, Kendricks at the linebacker spot, and Anthony Harris in the secondary, the Vikings have an outstanding young talent at each level of the defense to build around for the long term. Yes, they still need to work out a long-term deal with Harris, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see that happen eventually.
Congratulations to Eric Kendricks on finally getting some of the recognition that he richly deserves.