Skip to main content

News | Minnesota Vikings –

Eric Kendricks Cracks NFL Network's 'Top 100' at No. 83

Image from iOS

EAGAN, Minn. — Accolades for Eric Kendricks keep mounting.

The Vikings middle linebacker on Sunday was announced at No. 83 overall in the NFL Network's Top 100 Players of 2020.

The honor, bestowed by players' votes, joins a First-Team All-Pro selection from The Associated Press and his first trip to the Pro Bowl for his work in 2019.

The program pointed out that Kendricks is one of 18 players born on a Leap Day (Feb. 29) to ever play in an NFL game and the only one since 1980. It also included a segment in which Kendricks was asked about never having been selected to the Top 100.

"I have not been on the Top 100. I guess I'm a little salty about that," Kendricks said.

When asked by a producer, "Tell us about that," Kendricks replied, "I don't know. It's pretty dumb."

Kendricks recorded 130 tackles (team stats), four tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and tied for the NFL lead among linebackers with 12 pass breakups last season.

The most dramatic of Kendricks' PBUs occurred at Dallas to preserve a 28-24 Minnesota win on Sunday Night Football. He tipped away a pass intended for Ezekiel Elliott on a fourth-and-5 from the Vikings 14-yard line with under a minute to go.

"Fourth-and-short in Dallas, they were driving down to take the lead, and he makes an unbelievable PBU on the running back out in the flat," Vikings fullback C.J. Ham said. "It just showed his athleticism. He's the smartest player out there because of the stuff that I see him do day-in and day-out is special."

Wide receiver Adam Thielen said he considers Kendricks "one of the best covering linebackers there is in this game."

"I see him covering receivers, covering backs, some of the best receiving backs, tight ends, things like that, and he's locking them down," Thielen added. "You see him in the backfield making negative runs and thinks like that. On game day, he's out there balling."

Running back Dalvin Cook said Kendricks is "not the strongest, not the fastest, but he flies around."

Cornerback Xavier Rhodes, who teamed with Kendricks from 2015-19 and signed with Indianapolis this offseason, said Kendricks is "a linebacker that can cover like a nickel."

"That's a kid whose motor never stops. I think it doesn't stop at home. It doesn't stop on the field, in the meetings. It doesn't stop anywhere. That's how he makes all of his plays, because he doesn't stop," Rhodes added. "The heart he has, he doesn't play like his size (6-foot, 232 pounds). He plays like he's 6-5, 250 or something and plays with a lot of heart, a lot of passion."

Kendricks has shown he can cover running backs and tight ends, be active against the run and perplex quarterbacks with his ability to blitz (or bluff).

The Vikings have known they can count on Kendricks for quite some time. The 2015 second-round pick has started 70 of 74 games played, taking over the role in the middle as a rookie. He has four career interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns, and 9.0 sacks.

View the top photos of Vikings LB Eric Kendricks from the 2019 season.

Heading into his sixth season, Kendricks has led the Vikings in tackles in each of his years in the NFL. He can tie a franchise record set by Scott Studwell (1980-85) and tied by Chad Greenway (2008-13) if he tops Minnesota in tackles in 2020.

Teammates will continue to spread the word about his talents. When Kendricks was assigned an overall 89 in "Madden 21" ratings released last week, quarterback Kirk Cousins said it was too low.

"I'm not just saying this – I think Eric's the best middle linebacker in football. I saw his Madden rating the other day, and it really ticked me off," Cousins said. "I'm tired of him flying under the radar, and it was just a reminder again that even Madden doesn't get it. His rating belongs up in the mid-to-high 90s, and people don't get it.

"I'm going to go on a crusade this fall to spread the word about Eric as a middle linebacker," Cousins continued. "All you've gotta do is watch the tape – not just read the hype or go by where guys are drafted but watch the tape. As far as middle linebackers go, I don't know how you beat Eric Kendricks."

Kendricks is one of five Vikings — and first announced — that cracked the Top 100 Players of 2020.

The series, which was created in 2011, continues on NFL Network Monday night at 7 p.m. (CT) with players 70-61, 60-51 and 50-41 revealed over the course of three, one-hour episodes.

The listing of the players in the 90-81 grouping were as follows:

90. Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona

89. Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams

88. Jaylon Smith, LB, Dallas

87. Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo

86. Marlon Humphrey, CB, Baltimore

85. Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia

84. Cameron Heyward, DT, Pittsburgh

83. Kendricks

82. Ryan Ramczyk, T, New Orleans

81. D.K. Metcalf, WR, Seattle