Ivan Pace Doesn’t Want Your Adjectives

Ivan Pace Jr.
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

Don’t use that word, he says.

Minnesota Vikings undrafted rookie linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. is ready to be done with the adjective “undrafted.”

Ivan Pace Doesn’t Want Your Adjectives

After conducting a marvelous rookie season, Pace Jr. would much rather be considered a Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate and seems ticked by the mention of undrafted anything.

The Cincinnati alumnus used the X app on Sunday, mere hours after the Vikings’ season ended at Detroit, to request cessation of the naughty word. A Vikings-themed account on X posted Pace Jr.’s stats and called him an “undrafted gem.” The tweet was quite complimentary, but Pace Jr. made sure to clarify.

He retweeted, “Do not‼️I repeat do not pull the undrafted card! I Deserve DROY‼️”

Want Your
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Pace has +15,000 odds to win Defensive Rookie of the Year, and the award is expected to be delivered to Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman Jalen Carter.

Here’s the Pace Jr. tweet in the flesh:

It is unclear why the “undrafted” adjective would irk Pace Jr., but it might downplay his phenomenal rookie season, at least per his perception (or something of the sort). Most draft pundits regarded Pace as a mid-round draft pick as he played incredibly well in his final college season, earning unanimous All-American honors after recording 137 tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, and 10 sacks. The one caveat that had him fall in the draft? He is only 5’10 and 231 lbs.

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

However, that limited size was not an issue in college, and it hasn’t been a problem in the NFL. All he does is make plays. In his first season, Pace logged 102 tackles and 2.5 sacks, in addition to ruining several plays by blowing up blockers that don’t show up in box scores.

According to Pro Football Focus, Pace is the NFL’s 17th-best off-ball linebacker in 2023, notably outpacing defenders like Foyesade Oluokun and Nick Bolton. He’s also PFF’s top rookie linebacker — by several miles.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Pace was assumed to be drafted anywhere from Round 3 to 5 last April, but NFL general managers were evidently turned off by his size — he’s about two inches shorter than a normal off-ball linebacker. Expressing bafflement about clubs not signing on his dotted line until after the draft, Pace posted to Instagram a picture of himself in April with the Vikings logo and a caption for the rest of the world, “Y’all done f-cked up.”

He knew all along that his talent would translate to the NFL — silly height reservations be damned.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Pace also won the NFC Defensive Player of the Week award after a Vikings win over the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 15. Pace told reporters following the Vikings victory, “I got that dog in me, man. That’s all I have to say. I haven’t ever been surprised. I know how good I am. I’ve been showing the world since I was young that I was good. Now I’m here in the league and still proving it.”

“I don’t know if any of y’all saw, but I said all y’all F’d up when they didn’t draft me, and I’m showing them,” Pace added about his now award-winning outing.

Just don’t call him undrafted anymore.

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 OverTheCap.com.