Weight: 232 lbs
Arm Length: 31″
Hands: 9 5/8″
Bench Press: 22 reps of 225 lbs
20 Yard Shuttle: 4.17 secs
Three-cone drill: 7.16 secs
Broad Jump: 124.0″
Pro Day 40-yard Dash: 4.61 secs
According to Draft scouts, Kendricks possesses a lot of upside. He is listed as having an “attacking mindset” and has built a reputation for speed and ability to maneuver the field well. Kendricks can turn on a dime and is able to move sideline to sideline. Especially coming in after five years at UCLA, his football I.Q. is impressive; he can quickly diagnose a play and reads the field well. Scouts credit Kendricks with ability for both man-to-man and zone coverage. He is listed as “one of the most productive tacklers in college football over the last three years.”
Kendricks played five seasons for UCLA, during which he totaled 481 tackles, 10 sacks and 26 tackles for a loss (92 yards). In 2014, Kendricks was named a second-team AP All-American, second-team All-Pac-12 and received the Butkus Award. He led the team with 149 tackles.
Kendricks does receive some concern around his ability to apprehend the ball carrier behind the line of scrimmage, and he does not have much reputation in blitz plays. Some scouts will criticize his size, saying he could carry more weight for the middle linebacker position.
The overall opinion on Kendricks is positive; he possesses all the necessary tools to make a major impact in the NFL. He is productive on the football field and plays with incredible athleticism and instinct.
Born in Clovis, CA, football runs in Kendricks’ family–his father played for UCLA and later in the Canadian Football League, and Kendricks’ older brother Mychal is currently a linebacker with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Kendricks attended Herbert Hoover High School (Fresno, CA) and played linebacker, quarterback, runningback, kicker and punter during his time there. He served as team captain during his junior and senior seasons.
Kendricks is graduating from UCLA this spring with a degree in political science.
Kendricks promises to be a great addition at linebacker for the Vikings. GM Rick Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer both expressed nothing but praise for Kendricks and his ability to provide coverage and bolster a defensive line.
The LB has the agility and speed to cover the quicker tight ends in the league, and he will prove a threat against both the passing game and the run game.
There is some question as to what role Kendricks will be expected to play immediately, especially considering veteran LB Chad Greenway’s current position. That doesn’t seem to be a major concern, however, as his versatility was a major selling point.
“I just want to help the team,” Kendricks said.
Kendricks can be expected to make a significant impact in 2015, and it seems even more probable that he will end up filling the cleats of Greenway when that time comes.
Despite concerns about his size, Kendricks possesses the speed, side-to-side coverage and technique needed to make up for it. His instincts and ability to anticipate the offense will prove invaluable for Zimmer’s defense.
Spielman described Kendricks as “the most distinctive linebacker in the Draft,” expressing surprise that he fell as low as he did so that the Vikings could grab him.
Finally, a key advantage for Minnesota is the history between Kendricks and sophomore Anthony Barr. The two LBs were not only teammates at UCLA but roommates as well. Barr admitted shortly after Kendricks was selected that he never thought the two would actually get to play together in the pros. The older LB has no doubts that Kendricks is NFL-read and will bring a huge upside to Zimmer’s already-capable defense.
“[Eric is] very smart, physical, hard-working, a natural leader. He’s going to do great things for us.”