Minnesota Vikings: Projecting starters for the 2021 season

(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson
(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images) Eric Kendricks /


  • OLB: Anthony Barr
  • MLB: Eric Kendricks
  • OLB: Ryan Connelly

Eric Kendricks is an elite linebacker. He is a tackling machine who can also drop back into coverage or rush the passer, making him extremely valuable in a Mike Zimmer defense. He returns as the team’s middle linebacker.

Meanwhile, this could be the final year Anthony Barr spends in a Minnesota Vikings jersey. The first-round draft pick of the Vikings in 2014 restructured his contract to become a one-year deal worth $8.635M but remains as one of the starters on the outside in 2021.

But this is where things get interesting. Although Minnesota runs a base 4-3 defense, they spend a lot of their time with an extra defensive back on the field instead of a third linebacker. However, that third linebacker will likely be a good tackler who plays less than half the team’s defensive snaps…and that door is wide open.

Ryan Connelly flashed at times last season. The same can be said for Troy Dye. There is also rookie Chazz Surratt, who is rough around the edges but might be able to snag a role on defense. For now, Connelly gets the nod.