With the 45th pick in the NFL draft, the Minnesota Vikings selected inside linebacker Eric Kendricks from UCLA in the second round, which is exactly where he was slated to go. He was selected to the second-team AP All-American in 2014, and he was also a Butkus award winner that same years. He was second-team All-Pac-12. At this same time, he led the team with 149 tackles, and had 10-plus tackles in 11 games. The latter set a UCLA record. In 2013, he was an honorable mention for the All-Pac-12 team, started in all 11 games that he played in, and was named the co-captain for the team. In 2012, starting in 14 games, he ended up leading the Pac-12 tackles, averaging 10.7 a game. He also ended up with the most tackles by a UCLA player in a single-season since the 1978 season. In short, this guy knows how to tackle.
He put up decent numbers at the combine, running his way to a 4.61 second 40-yard dash, and completing 19 repetitions on the bench press. He also showcased a 38.0-inch vertical jump and a 124.0-inch broad jump. At the Pro Day, he was able to turn in a 4.17 second 20-yard short shuttle, 7.16 second three-cone drill, and bench pressed his way to 22 repetitions at 225 pounds. A major strength lies in his confidence. He also has an attacking mindset that should do him well at the pros if he does not overrun. He is built well, coming in at 6’0” and 232 pounds, and is able to slide well on his feet. In addition, he can accelerate quickly and develop run plays. He can figure out a play quickly and end up attacking the run well, while avoiding blockers at the same time. He has demonstrated that he was one of the most productive tacklers in all of college football over the course of the previous three seasons. He knows how to make plays on the ball, and has excellent zone awareness.
Graphic via insidesocal
One of the more noticeable weaknesses is that, even given his high tackle numbers, he tends to fail to meet the ball carrier behind the line of scrimmage with regularity. He needs to use his weight better, and stop dropping his head when encountering a ball carrier coming through the hole. In addition, he is not much of a threat to blitz, so opposing teams can easily pick up on that.
In the end, this player has produced season after season, and appears to be of great character. This means something in today’s NFL and he should fit in nicely with the Vikings rebuilding efforts.
Graphic via philly