Eric Kendricks has developed into one of the top linebackers to ever suit up for the Minnesota Vikings.
When he was a rookie in 2015, the Minnesota Vikings and head coach Mike Zimmer made the attempt to bring along linebacker Eric Kendricks slowly. Kendricks didn’t enter the starting lineup for the Vikings until his fourth career game with the team and looking back, that was a mistake.
Minnesota should have opened the 2015 season with the young linebacker as a starter. But the Vikings eventually realized what they had in Kendricks and he has remained in the team’s starting lineup for the majority of his NFL career.
Last season, the 28-year-old linebacker really stepped up his performance and played at an elite level for Minnesota during each and every one of their matchups. Kendricks’ impressive 2019 campaign resulted in him earning a trip to the Pro Bowl and a First-Team All-Pro selection for the first time in his pro career.
Minnesota Vikings linebacker snubbed in recent ranking from CBS Sports.
On Tuesday, CBS Sports’ Sean Wagner-McGough released his list of the top 10 linebackers in the NFL. Kendricks was one of those lucky enough to be selected, but he was not the guy who was picked for the top spot.
Kendricks did end up at No. 2 on the list, however, current Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner is who Wagner-McGough went with as his best player from the position group.
Wagner is great, there is no question about that. But his high tackle numbers might be something that is causing some to believe he’s actually better than he really is.
Wagner finished last season with 159 tackles, the most of any defender in the NFL. However, only 54 percent of his final amount was due to solo tackles. Of Kendricks’ 110 total tackles in 2019, 64 percent were accumulated all on his own.
Then one can turn to how the two compared in pass coverage. Wagner finished the year with six pass breakups and one interception while allowing his coverage to haul in 80.6 percent of their targets. As for Kendricks, he broke up a whopping 12 passes last season in addition to only letting his coverage catch 53.3 percent of the passes tossed in their direction.
The interesting thing is that Wagner-McGough even mentions that a linebacker’s coverage skills matter more than ever due to the, “modern pass-happy version of the sport.” So he went with Wagner because of his tackling numbers?
Maybe he thinks Kendricks’ All-Pro season in 2019 was a bit of a fluke. But if anyone has been paying attention to the young linebacker during his time with the Vikings, last year was hardly a surprise.
Wagner might be viewed as the top linebacker in the NFL for now. But the case can also be made for Kendricks and if he continues to perform like he did in 2019, there won’t even be an argument.