Minnesota Vikings Stole a Starter in the Second Round


May 27, 2015; Eden Prairie, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks (54) works on drills at Winter Park. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings had a Top-10 pass defense last year but they really struggled against the run. So they drafted middle linebacker Eric Kendricks in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft. And to tell you the truth, the Vikings made out like bandits in this one as they have a steal and a starter.

Kendricks’ athleticism and intelligence should lead to a quick transition to the NFL. He was deemed one of the linebackers ready to step in and contribute immediately when Minnesota drafted him. So it’s no wonder he impressed the Vikings enough in their offseason program to be become an immediate starter and every-down player.

Head coach Mike Zimmer believes he has something in Kendricks. He told Fox Sports, “I think he’s further ahead than most rookies, but they’re all different. [Anthony] Barr was pretty sharp last year when he came in. So, they’re all different. Eric’s been doing a good job. He’s obviously got a lot of athletic ability. He’s studying real hard. I think he’s got a chance to be a good player.”

Veteran linebacker Chad Greenway seems to see the same thing Zimmer sees in the youngster, telling Fox Sports, “He’s a great kid,” Greenway said of his possible competition for a nickel spot. “He works hard. At this point, it’s hard to really tell what type of player he is without putting the pads on. He’s a heady guy; he fits right into the group. It’s going to be a good fit for us.”

The Vikings already picked cornerback Trae Waynes in the first round to go with Xavier Rhodes. Defensive end Everson Griffen, coming off a 12-sack season, will be back on the defense. Then there’s Barr at outside linebacker, a weapon the Vikings like to use to blitz out of their 4-3.

Then there’s Kendricks in the middle to tie the whole thing together for the Vikings. Add to that mercurial running back Adrian Peterson come back with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and receiver Mike Wallace. It’s starting to look to me like the Vikings have become a legitimate threat to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North.

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