Eric Kendricks
Eric Kendricks just got paid and he has earned every penny (Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports)

In 2015, I called Eric Kendricks a can’t miss prospect. There’s no question that he should have been a first-round pick. He was one of the best college linebackers I’ve ever seen in coverage. The Minnesota Vikings picked Kendricks in the 2nd round of that 2015 draft and the rest is history. Kendricks is the leader of the Vikings defense and earned a pretty nice paycheck for it.

NFL Network Media Insider Ian Rapoport was the first to report the news:

Kendricks set a career high in tackles with 113 across 1,099 snaps. Kendricks never comes off the field and truly is a three-down linebacker. The Vikings made the NFC Title game in 2017 and Kendricks is a huge reason why. Minnesota arguably has the best defense in football and the former UCLA linebacker is the leader of this group. Minnesota is the perfect example of a team that has nailed the draft despite not finding a franchise quarterback. Xavier Rhodes, Danielle Hunter, Anthony Barr, and Harrison Smith have helped make the Vikings defense elite and all have been acquired via the draft.

Minnesota Vikings 2018 NFL Draft War Room

Football Outsiders named the Vikings the best defense in the NFL analytically in 2017. They allowed the fewest passing yards in the league. Eric Kendricks really gives the Vikings a weapon that many teams don’t have because he is the best cover middle linebacker in football. Unfortunately, the Vikings didn’t have the 5th-year option on Kendricks because he was not a first-round pick. The $50 million is a big number but he has proven that he is worth every penny. With Kirk Cousins now in the fold with the Vikings, this team could be very scary heading into 2018. The Vikings will need to continue to nail the draft now that a big money quarterback is on the books.