Success for the Minnesota Vikings this year will depend on their All-Pro linebacker.
In 54 days, the Minnesota Vikings will open their 2020 season inside U.S. Bank Stadium against their biggest rivals, the Green Bay Packers.
Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, there’s still a possibility that the regular season might not begin in 54 days. But as of right now, the Vikings‘ first game is slated to kick off on September 13.
Speaking of 54, that number is currently worn by linebacker Eric Kendricks. Since being selected in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft out of UCLA (45th overall), Kendricks has been one of the best defensive players on the team. But last season, he had the best performance of his career, without a doubt.
How will the All-Pro Minnesota Vikings linebacker perform in 2020?
Kendricks not only made it to the Pro Bowl for the first time last year (originally wasn’t selected), but he was also a First-team All-Pro selection. In addition to all of this, he was ranked as the best linebacker in the NFL by Pro Football Focus last year.
If Minnesota going to make it further in 2020 or at least make it just as far as last season, once again, they will need an elite season from Kendricks.
The Vikings defense already took a step back in 2019 despite their linebacker’s wonderful season. There are certainly no guarantees the defense will be any better this year.
Michael Pierce, at this point, is an upgrade over Linval Joseph as Minnesota’s nose tackle. Joseph is on the decline and the Vikings parting ways with cornerback Xavier Rhodes helps after the season he is coming off of. But Minnesota’s defense did also lose Everson Griffen (who could still return) and Mackensie Alexander this year.
Trae Waynes is another player who is no longer with the Vikings after he not having a very good performance in 2019. Overall, Waynes has been a good cornerback since entering the league in 2015.
Rookie cornerback Jeff Gladney could turn out to be a good player for Minnesota during the next few years. But even if he is, no one really knows what to expect from him during his first season with the Vikings.
Will Kendricks have another elite year in 2020? He has a very good chance if he stays healthy. Having Pierce in front of him now will certainly help.
Even if Kendricks does play as well in 2020, or perhaps better, it certainly does not guarantee that Minnesota will be a better team this year or just as good as they were in 2019. But at the very least, it would be a huge help.