Vikings 2017 Player Grades: Linebackers

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Sep 11, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr (55) and linebacker Eric Kendricks (54) celebrate a tackle in the second quarter against the New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis (11) at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 11, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr (55) and linebacker Eric Kendricks (54) celebrate a tackle in the second quarter against the New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis (11) at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

We continue on with our series grading the Vikings’ position groups for 2017. This week, it is the linebackers.

Anthony Barr

Regular Season: A-

In a bounce-back year, Barr showed again that he is one of the most versatile linebackers in the game. He not only recorded 10 run disruptions and 52 solo tackles, he also blitzed more than any other Viking, leading all non-linemen with 11 pressures. Barr also proved to be an effective cover, tasked with manning tight ends and running backs more than any other linebacker. In coverage, he allowed just 35 catches on 50 targets, one touchdown, 6.82 yards per attempt and a rating of 95. 5.

Barr’s overall grade suffers a bit from moderately inconsistent play. Most of his stops in the run game came in the first half of the season, as did his pass rushing effectiveness. However, he also stepped up his coverage in the second half, allowing a passer rating of 86.1 after the bye as opposed to 104.2 before.

Postseason: C+

Barr was one of the few Viking defenders who did not see a crater in play come postseason time. In coverage, he allowed two catches on three targets for just 22 yards. However, he was also only a modest threat in other aspects. Barr finished with just four solo tackles, four run disruptions and two pressures, despite playing nearly every snap of the postseason.

Eric Kendricks

Regular Season: B+

Kendricks has the numbers of a Pro Bowl linebacker but the potential for more is what knocks his grade down a tick. He led all Vikings in tackles by a landslide with 113, including 67 solo tackles and 16 run disruptions. But he also led the team in missed tackles by a wide margin. Kendricks is the Vikings’ best bet to get to the ball play in and play out. Once he improves his tackling, he very well could be an All-Pro.

Like Barr, Kendricks also has a Swiss Army Knife quality to him. He was just a tick behind Barr in pressures with 10 and allowed lower numbers in yards per attempt and passer rating while in coverage. Kendricks is targeted more than Barr despite playing less man coverage, but when targeted, he knows how to play the ball.

Postseason: B

The linebacking corps was certainly not the problem in the postseason. Kendricks largely played excellently in both games, despite letting up a touchdown in coverage. Overall, he recorded seven run disruptions, second only to Linval Joseph, and three pressures while allowing just three receptions.

Ben Gedeon

Regular Season: B

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You may notice that Gedeon’s grade differs significantly from when we graded the rookie class. The primary reason for the difference is because that piece evaluated Gedeon’s performance from a rookie lens, relative to other rookie linebackers. It also took his special teams prowess, which was substantial, into account. This grade only considers his role as the Vikings’ starting Will linebacker, a role he largely played well.

Gedeon’s athletic limitations and linebacker running mates mean he was the man off the field in nickel and dime packages. And given the state of the NFL today, that meant Gedeon only ended up playing about 30 percent of snaps. When he was on the field, he proved to be an effective run stopper, finishing with six run disruptions and one of the top tackle percentages on the team. Without question, Gedeon has solid fundamentals and instincts to go along with an aggressive nose for the football. That alone will keep him around for awhile.

That being said, his pass coverage leaves room for improvement, hence the reason he was so frequently taken off the field. Though targeted just six times, Gedeon allowed five receptions for 50 yards, a passer rating of 101.4. It is a small sample size, but gives a window into where his weaknesses lie. That being said, should he improve as a cover, Gedeon has a long career as a starting linebacker in front of him.

Postseason: C-

Giving Gedeon a grade at all hardly seems fair as he played just 26 total defensive snaps in the postseason. Of those 26, about a third of them came after Philadelphia had built a 30-point lead. When on the field, however, Gedeon had little impact, recording just one run disruption and one tackle in two games.

Emmanuel Lamur

Regular Season: C

Lamur was primarily a special teamer, but he also had a few snaps at Will. During that time, he failed to record a single run disruption and allowed three catches on four targets for 20 yards. Beyond that, there is not a whole lot to evaluate Lamur’s performance further.

Postseason: N/A

Lamur’s only series was the final drive of the NFC Championship Game. There is not enough game data to adequately grade him.

Check out our past position grades:

Secondary

–Sam Smith is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Vikings and Full Press Coverage NFC North. Like and

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