Vikings Have New Entry on “Under 25” Lists

Use Unusual Tactic
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

It’s usually Justin Jefferson and Christian Darrisaw.

Vikings Have New Entry on “Under 25” Lists

Those men typically gather “under age 25” attention on such lists around this time on the NFL calendar, but in 2024, linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. has joined the party.

under 25
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Sporting News published a full “under 25” roster last week, and at linebacker, Pace represented the Vikings. In fact, with Jefferson turning 25 a few weeks ago and thus disqualified, plus Darrisaw’s bizarre exclusion, Pace Jr. was the only Viking to make the cut per SN’s Vinnie Iyer.

He wrote about Pace Jr., “The undrafted gem from Miami (Ohio) was on the field everywhere making big plays for Brian Flores as a rookie in 2023. He can become more prolific out of the gate this season.”

How Crazy Was
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Darrisaw probably should’ve received the nod over Pace Jr., or at least in addition, but Iyer opted for Peneii Sewell (Detroit Lions) and Charles Cross (Seattle Seahawks) at offensive tackle. Darrisaw is no stranger to snubs, though, still waiting on his first Pro Bowl nod that has been weirdly elusive through three seasons.

At this time last year, the Pace Jr. hype train had just left the station. The Cincinnati alumnus curiously didn’t get drafted in 2023, though most draft heads forecasted him as a mid- or late-round pick. He fell out of the event altogether, allowing Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah to scoop the defender immediately after the draft. The rest is history.

Folks began whispering, basically right away, that Pace Jr. would make the league pay for the draft snub. Then, that’s what he did as soon as the regular season got rolling. Teammates like Harrison Smith warned fans that Pace Jr. was the real deal, and of course, the rookie backed up the praise. Pace Jr. earned a starter’s job out of the gate in 2023 — and never relinquished it. The rookie was even named the defensive playcaller for four games during Jordan Hicks‘ absence late in the season. He was that good, that ready, for the bright lights of the NFL. He even earned All-Rookie Team honors from Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA).

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According to Pro Football Focus, Pace Jr. was the NFL’s 17th-best off-ball linebacker in 2023, notably outpacing defenders like Foyesade Oluokun and Nick Bolton. He was also PFF’s top rookie linebacker — by several miles. In total as a rookie, Pace Jr. notched 102 total tackles, 9 QB hits, 2.5 sacks, and an interception.

Pace Jr. also notably switched jerseys this offseason, changing from No. 40 to No. 0.

Coach Already a Hot
Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores takes over the team’s defense at an introductory press conference on February 15th, 2023, in Eagan, Minnesota.

He’ll have a new linebacking running mate in September, as Eden Praire native Blake Cashman joined the roster via free agency.

Pace Jr. will turn 24 in December.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by