5 best Vikings rookies during the Mike Zimmer era

(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) Teddy Bridgewater
(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) Teddy Bridgewater /
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MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 15: Eric Kendricks #54 of the Minnesota Vikings runs a play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the preseason game on August 15, 2015 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Buccaneers 26-16. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Eric Kendricks /

1. Eric Kendricks – LB

Rookie Stats (2015):

  • 92 tackles (8 for a loss)
  • 4 sacks, 1 pass breakup

Despite only starting in 11 games for the Vikings as a rookie, Kendricks still managed to finish the 2015 season as the team’s leading tackler. The young Minnesota linebacker replaced Gerald Hodges on the team’s starting defense early in the year and he hasn’t looked back since.

Almost immediately, Kendricks made plays on the field that proved why he deserved to be a starter for the Vikings. In his first three starts with Minnesota, the rookie linebacker accumulated a total of 20 tackles (five for a loss), five quarterback hits, and four sacks.

During the second half of the Vikings’ 2015 season, Kendricks averaged over seven tackles per game and he established himself as an important part of the team’s defense. His performance as a rookie played a big factor in Minnesota’s defense allowing the fifth-fewest points per game in 2015.

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Kendricks’ talent level may not be as high as some of the Vikings’ other rookies that have performed well during Mike Zimmer’s tenure with the team. But it’s hard to argue against anyone having a better first year with Minnesota since 2014 than the guy who led the defense in tackles.