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Lunchbreak: Kevin O'Connell Makes '40 Under 40' List by The Athletic

There are numerous young names garnering attention across the NFL.

The Athletic's Lindsay Jones recently rolled out a "40 Under 40" list of "top young coaches, execs, agents and other rising stars," and she included new Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell, who turned 37 in May. Jones wrote:

O'Connell spent the past two seasons as [Sean] McVay's offensive coordinator, working closely last year with quarterback Matthew Stafford, and parlayed the Rams success into his first head-coaching job. But even when O'Connell was a backup quarterback from 2008 to 2011 with the Patriots and Jets, he was preparing for an eventual career in coaching.

That opportunity first came in 2015 as quarterbacks coach in Cleveland, followed by one season as an assistant in San Francisco. He then spent three years in Washington, where he overlapped with Kirk Cousins in 2017.

Now O'Connell and Cousins are reunited in Minnesota, and it will be intriguing to see them work together again at different stages of their careers. O'Connell will call plays for Cousins, which he did not do for Stafford.

The other head coaches included on the list were McVay (36), Brandon Staley (39, Chargers), Mike McDaniel (39, Dolphins) and Zac Taylor (39, Bengals).

Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah missed the age cut, but Jones included Browns General Manager Andrew Berry, whom Adofo-Mensah most recently worked under in Cleveland.

Another name likely recognized by Vikings fans is Ryan Poles, the Bears new general manager.

Poles, an offensive lineman at Boston College, spent 13 years in the Chiefs front office. There, he rose from entry-level scouting assistant to one of General Manager Brett Veach's top talent evaluators.

Now he's Chicago's GM, charged with building the Bears back into an NFC North contender. It's a big challenge. Poles and first-year [Head Coach] Matt Eberflus inherited quarterback Justin Fields but have to make significant moves to upgrade other parts of the roster — minus a surplus of draft capital or salary cap space.

Former Vikings assistant Jonathan Gannon, who his now Philadelphia's defensive coordinator, also made the list.

View photos of new Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell during his first day at the TCO Performance Center on Feb. 17.

To see Jones' full "40 Under 40" list, click here.

Kendricks among NFL's top 10 linebackers entering 2022 season

Stop me if you've heard this before … Eric Kendricks is good.

View the best photos of Vikings LB Eric Kendricks from the 2021 season.

CBS Sports' Jordan Dajani ranked the NFL’s top 10 linebackers, and he slated Kendricks at No. 6. Dajani wrote:

Kendricks has long been one of the consistent middle linebackers in the league, and he stepped up his game in 2021 with a career-high 143 combined tackles, 5.0 sacks and two interceptions. The only season in which he did not record at least 100 tackles was his rookie campaign, when he missed two games. He even hit 107 combined tackles in 2020 despite playing in just 11 games!

Kendricks is another well-rounded linebacker that can cover, as his 73.8 PFF coverage grade ranked No. 10 among linebackers last year. Despite what [analytics site Pro Football Focus] says, I don't think there are that many more linebackers who are better in coverage than Kendricks. While Mike Zimmer is gone, new [Defensive Coordinator] Ed Donatell is an experienced coach who can get the most out of Kendricks and this defense as a whole. [...] At age 30, Kendricks should again be one of the best middle linebackers in the NFL in 2022.

The list of top linebackers has long been topped by Bobby Wagner, but Dajani de-throned Wagner by sliding him to No. 2 and putting Dallas' Micah Parsons at No. 1. The Vikings are scheduled to host Parsons and the Cowboys at U.S. Bank Stadium this season.

Parsons took the NFL by storm in his rookie season, recording 84 combined tackles and a Dallas Cowboys rookie record 13 sacks. He told us last week that 15 sacks are the "minimum" in 2022. Parsons was the No. 1 linebacker according to PFF, with a grade of 89.7. He also registered an absurd pass-rushing grade of 93.

We thought about if Parsons should even be included in this list since he played a fair amount of pass-rusher last season, but the bottom line is that Parsons is a great linebacker who can wear several different hats on defense. Parsons is versatile, smart and instinctive. You don't do what he did in his rookie season if you aren't a star. NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, First-Team All-Pro and Pro Bowler.

Dajani's full list was as follows: Parsons, Wagner, Darius Leonard (Colts), Fred Warner (49ers), Demario Davis (Saints), Kendricks, Roquan Smith (Bears), Devin White (Buccaneers), Lavonte David (Buccaneers) and De'Vondre Campbell (Packers).