Minnesota Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks admitted he was a “little salty” about not commanding the respect of his peers during an interview making the NFL Top 100.
“I have not personally been on the Top 100 yet. I guess I’m a little salty about that,” Kendricks said in an interview with NFL Network for the upcoming list. When asked by a producer why he thinks he hasn’t made the list, Kendricks was a bit off-balance from the question, saying ” I don’t know, it’s pretty dumb.”
Kendricks didn’t know at the time, but he had earned the recognition among the league’s best players after his first All-Pro season in 2019, cracking the list at No. 83. The list ranks the NFL’s 100 best players annually and is voted on by players. He had previously earned All-Pro honors from the Associated Press but did not earn a first-team Pro Bowl selection, which is voted on by fans.
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) July 27, 2020
Kendricks tallied 110 tackles, four tackles for a loss, two fumbles and 12 pass breakups last season. His 12 pass breakups are considered the most Pro Football Focus has ever recorded as Kendricks’ coverage ability was a highlight of his 2019 season, evident in his pass breakup against the Dallas Cowboys that was featured in his reel. Kendricks tipped away a pass intended for Ezekiel Elliott on fourth-and-5 in the Vikings red zone with a minute remaining to seal a 28-24 win on Sunday Night Football.
“It just showed his athleticism. He’s the smartest player out there because of the stuff that I see him do day-in and day-out is special,” Vikings fullback C.J. Ham said.
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Kendricks In Coverage
Former Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes said Kendricks is a linebacker that can cover like a nickel corner. Rhodes’ testament has some facts to back it as well. Kendricks was regarded as one of the best coverage linebackers in the league last year despite pedestrian season stat totals as interceptions tend to be an inconsistent stat for linebackers.
Kendricks’ 14 pass breakups (including the postseason) were the most among linebackers last season. His 12 pass breakups through 14 weeks ranked fourth league-wide behind three cornerbacks. Kendricks also led all linebackers in forced incompletion rate at 21.9 percent with two games remaining in the season — also the highest mark PFF has ever seen for a linebacker.
The average passer rating when targeting a linebacker in the NFL is 104.3, more than seven points higher on all other throws. But Kendricks had allowed an 86.8 passer rating through 14 games last season. His allowed completion rate of 56.3 percent is 20 percent better than the average NFL linebacker and on par with San Francisco 49ers Pro Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman’s 55.1 percent.
Kendricks in coverage last season was among the NFL’s best cornerbacks, and he proved to be one of the best run defenders among linebackers as well, posting an average depth of tackle against the run at 3.46 yards. NFC Pro Bowl linebackers Bobby Wagner and Luke Kuechly had an average tackle depth of 4.88 and 3.62 yards, respectively.
Trevor Squire is a Heavy contributor covering the Minnesota Vikings and journalism graduate from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Connect with him on Twitter @trevordsquire and join our Vikings community at Heavy on Vikings on Facebook.