View images of new Vikings LB Eric Kendricks.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — What happened in Round 2 was hard to believe at first but wasn't too good to be true for Eric Kendricks.
Or for Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr.
Kendricks, selected 45th overall in the second round Friday by the Vikings, teamed and roomed with Barr, who was drafted ninth overall in 2014, at UCLA.
"I've been thinking about this moment my entire life," Kendricks said. "I couldn't be more proud and happy, especially for my family to be part of the organization, especially being with one of my best friends and my old roommate, Anthony Barr. That's another blessing."
Barr shared his excitement for the news with Vikings.com here and through this Tweet:
Kendricks said during a conference call with media that his surprise in receiving the call from the Vikings at first prompted a silent reaction.
"When I got the call, and they were kind of going over it, it took me at least a minute to realize what was happening and where I was going and who I was playing with," Kendricks said. "I really felt like it was kind of disrespectful because I wasn't saying much, but I was just in complete shock. Once it finally clicked, I got so happy and the rest just took off from there."
Former Vikings linebacker E.J. Henderson, a second-round selection in 2003, guest announced the selection of the 2014 Butkus award winner six picks after the namesake of the award, former Bears linebacker Dick Butkus, called the name of Eddie Goldman as the Bears second-round pick.
Kendricks also won the 2014 Lott IMPACT Trophy, which honors "college football's defensive best in character and performance" that was claimed by Barr in 2013. Kendricks recorded at least 100 tackles in three straight seasons on his way to setting the school record with 481 career tackles credited, including 307 solo, had 10.0 sacks, 26.0 tackles for loss and five interceptions.
"He always finds the football," Barr said. "It's kind of crazy how he does it. He can take on blocks. He can cover the pass. He can make tough tackles. He's a great football player."
In addition to being a tackling machine, Barr said Kendricks is "a natural leader, a very hard worker and he loves the game of football."
"I think those things are just going to rub off on all the players in the locker room and people are going to gravitate toward him and we'll be good," Barr said.
Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said the availability of Kendricks when Minnesota went on the clock generated activity from teams that wanted to move up, but the California native gave them multiple reasons to stay put.
"We felt that he was the most instinctive linebacker in this draft," Spielman said. "As we talked through it with our coaches, we think he can play Will or Mike. He's very good in coverage. He's very instinctive against the run. He's not overly big, as far as size, but he's still over 6 feet and about 235 pounds, ran well and plays very heavy handed to shed and get off blocks and really locate the ball. He has great range from sideline to sideline, he has the athletic skillset to be a three-down backer, and we were kind of surprise that he fell to us where we were at."
Kendricks said he and Barr stayed in touch last season and he spoke with Vikings officials at the NFL Combine in a meeting that "went really well," but hadn't had too much communication with them since.
"At the combine I asked (where they thought I'd play), and they said definitely somewhere on the inside," Kendricks said. "I said I feel versatile enough to fit wherever they need me and I just want to help the team."
Spielman said the meeting in Indianapolis as one of Minnesota's top 60 interviews, private meetings that last up to 15 minutes at the combine provided enough info on what they wanted to know about Kendricks.
"We felt we had all A-plusses coming out," Spielman said. "There was no off-field issues, no character issues we had to address. After he talked the first five minutes about football, there were no intelligence issues, so he was one of those guys that we had a pretty good feel for off the bat. We didn't think we had to do any more work (on him) after that."
Kendricks has graduated with a degree in political science, so he won't miss any of the Vikings rookie workout program because of academic obligations. He sounded like he already has intel on Zimmer's defense, but said it's only the beginning.
"They feed a lot to the linebackers, and you got the front going on, the four down, you got my boy AB coming off the edge but also behind the ball sometimes. I don't know too much, but I am eager to learn."