Matt Waldman’s Rookie Scouting Portfolio NFL Lens showcases a trio of great plays by Minnesota LB Eric Kendricks—one that prevents a long touchdown by Ezekiel Elliott without tackling the runner.
Eric Kendricks is one of my favorite linebackers in the league. He excels in underneath coverage, he’s a sure tackler, and he’s sneaky smart. “Sneaky” is the operative word. This trio of plays against Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys reveals all three assets of his game.
The first is an excellent job of limiting Elliot on a pass to the flat. Note how close Kendricks gets to Elliott before wrapping the back. He doesn’t leave his feet to make the contact, which allows him to drive through the runner.
Also pay attention to Kendricks’ drop from a double A-gap look into flat coverage, earning quick depth before assessing the throw and getting an angle to stop Elliott for no gain. These are good displays of range, reaction, and tackling.
Later in the quarter, Elliott runs for a touchdown but Kendricks draws a holding penalty against Doug Free that’s nothing but wily acting.
Cowboys fans will certainly hate this play, but it’s a great display of acting to get the officials’ attention and nullify a touchdown. Soon after, Elliot fumbles the ball and guess who disengages from Tyron Smith to recover?
Kendricks has excellent movement, he reads the field well, he’s technically sound, and he’s situationally creative in a way that exemplifies Football IQ. Whether it’s tackling, pass coverage, or creating advantages from ultimate disadvantages, Kendricks is a fine standard for evaluating linebackers.
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