Eric Kendricks Is Old News According to ESPN’s Linebacker Rankings

An Eric Kendricks Trade: The Potential Rationale Behind It
Eric Kendicks

Every year, ESPN‘s Jeremy Fowler puts together a top-10 ranking of each position in the NFL. These rankings are formed based on polls of 50-plus NFL coaches, executives, and players that rank the positions and voice their opinions on each player. In years past, it would be very surprising to see Eric Kendricks left off such a top-10 list given what he has meant to the Minnesota Vikings defense.

However, it seems that while Vikings fans have tried to turn away from the fact that Kendricks had perhaps his worst year as a professional in 2021, especially in pass coverage others around the league are taking notice. The 30-year-old linebacker had a PFF grade of 59.9 during 2021, the lowest of Kendricks’ career since his rookie season of 2015.

As a result of declined performance, Fowler’s list did not include Kendricks inside the top 10. Rather, he was listed as an honorable mention. Here is the full list of player’s on the list.

  1. Darius Leonard (IND)
  2. Micah Parsons (DAL)
  3. Fred Warner (SF)
  4. Devin White (TB)
  5. Roquan Smith (CHI)
  6. Demario Davis (NO)
  7. Tremaine Edmunds (BUF)
  8. Bobby Wagner (LAR)
  9. Lavonte David (TB)
  10. Jordyn Brooks (SEA)

It must be taken into account that once NFL players hit the age of 30, their production typically declines at a rapid rate. Perhaps the downturn in 2021 is a sign of things to come, and his NFL peers are getting ahead of the storm.

Or maybe, Kendricks supposed bad year was a result of a team with horrible chemistry, poor injury luck, and atrocious play at the cornerback position. With an uptick in those things, maybe we get to see the Eric Kendricks of old in 2022.

At any rate, here is what one AFC scout had to say about Kendricks:

“Still really good, but there have been other guys who have passed him up somewhat. Probably somewhere high in that second tier of guys.”

Perhaps it is fair to knock Kendricks a little for having a down year in pass coverage, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is at least competent in the field. Not only that, but he emerged as a pass-rush threat in 2021 more than any other year in his career, recording five sacks, He also led the Vikings in total tackles (143) and tackles for loss (8).

I believe Kendricks still has more to offer the Vikings in his age-30 season. 2021 feels much more like the result of one man being forced to do too many things to carry a sub-par defense. Perhaps with a little bit of help from free agent acquisition Jordan Hicks, we will see a rejuvenated version of the 2019 All-Pro.