Jason Kelce Heaps Praise On One Viking Rookie

Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce speaks with the media after the first day of training camp at the NovaCare Complex in Philadelphia on July 26, 2023. © Justin Robertson / USA TODAY NETWORK.


A lot of attention if focused on the Kansas City Chiefs All-Pro TE Travis Kelce, and his relationship with Taylor Swift. That circus comes to Minnesota this week, as the Minnesota Vikings take on the Kansas City Chiefs at US Bank Stadium.

The upcoming matchup led to the Kelce brothers discussing the Vikings on their New Heights podcast. On this weeks episode the Eagles All-Pro center Jason Kelce heaps praise on one Vikings rookie, when discussing his brother upcoming opponents.

Jason Kelce Heaps Praise On One Vikings Rookie

Jason Kelce
Dec 21, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce (62) walks off the field after a victory against the Washington Football Team at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Super Bowl-winning brothers got into conversation about the Chiefs upcoming opponents, and with Jason having faced the Vikings in Week 2 he was able to impart some knowledge his brother’s way. That knowledge was to look out for the Vikings rookie who is taking the league by storm, linebacker Ivan Pace.

“Ivan Pace, former Bearcat, one of the inside linebackers. Dude, we played against them, I’m not kidding you, that dude is a freaking beast. He is all over the place, quick-twitch, a little bit smaller but don’t play like it.” Declared Jason. Hight praise for the Vikings rookie from an elite, direct opponent.

The Kelce brothers are Ohio natives who both played their college football for the Cincinnati Bearcats, just as Pace is. So there is excitement for fellow college alumni at play, but Pace’s early impact is undeniable. Any list of top-performing rookies and even early defensive rookie player of the year candidates will have the Vikings linebacker in it.

Pro Football Focus has Pace graded as the fourth-best rookie player in the league this season with a grade of 80.7. In what has been a difficult start to the season for Minnesota, Pace has been one of the major positives. All that remains to be seen is whether he can keep this performance up and even improve upon it.

Pace Versus Mahomes

Sep 10, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Sean Tucker (44) is tackled by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. (40) in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

It was Pace’s smaller stature that saw the entire league pass up on him and leave him to go undrafted. That came as somewhat of a surprise as even given his smaller frame, he was universally seen as a mid-round talent at least. He is making a mockery of the fact he was overlooked just four weeks into his NFL career, and it is the Vikings who are reaping the benefits.

It is his ability as a pass rusher that has caught the eye and this week Pace gets to to test those skills against the best in the business. Patrick Mahomes has all of the skills and is famed for his ability to escape from pressure and still make big plays.Finding a way to stop Mahomes from doing that will be key to the Vikings chances of winning. There’s no lack of confidence from the Vikings rookie on his ability to take down the league’s leading quarterback. When asked about blitzing Mahomes by the media earlier this week he simply stated, “They just need to send me after him.”

Mar 1, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Cincinnati linebacker Ivan Pace, Jr. (LB23) speaks to the press at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

Brian Flores’s entire game plan for the Vikings defense this season has been to blitz, blitz, and blitz again. I don’t imagine that is going to change much this Sunday.If Pace can get after, and bring down Mahomes his star will be shining brighter than it already is come Monday morning. For all the pressure that Pace is bringing there’s not much on the stat sheet. He has just 0.5 sacks and 0 tackles for loss to his name – he does have three QB hits.

With the eyes of the world watching this week, it would be the perfect timing for Pace to get home and finish his impressive play with results.

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