The Minnesota Vikings have almost no chance of reuniting UCLA linebacker Myles Jack with his former college teammates, Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks, in Minnesota. Jack is expected be long gone in the draft by the time the Vikings pick at No. 23, but Jack piled praise on Barr and Kenricks for their tutelage at UCLA.
“It’s just the culture. I kind of followed in those guys’ steps. Me getting there, Anthony was kind of the beginning, and then I was kind of in awe of those guys,” Jack said. “When I first stepped on campus I wanted to be just like them. When Anthony left, it was Eric. I really just followed Eric, listened to everything he said, watched how serious he took the game, and it’s paid off. Hopefully the next wave of guys out of UCLA will follow that same suit.”
Barr turned into a worthy top-10 pick for the Vikings after showing his versatility at the UCLA, something Jack is familiar with. Even as he is expected to be a top-10 linebacker, despite recovering from a knee injury, teams are talking to him about all three linebacker positions, even safety.
Kendricks didn’t start immediately for the Vikings as a rookie last year, but he turned into a quality middle linebacker in his rookie season with the versatility to play outside if needed.
Jack said he learned different aspects from each of them.
“It’s two different styles. Anthony, he was just a gamer,” Jack said. “He would just come out and no matter if we were losing or winning he just brought that same motor every single play.
“With Eric, I really learned the preparation aspect. I remember in meetings when (the UCLA defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich) would ask, ‘In 2-by-2 formation, what are the three plays they run?’ and Eric would know it on the spot. I really picked that up from his game, him studying and him paying attention to film instead of just watching guys run the ball, watching guys score touchdowns. He’s looking at linemen, he’s look at what they’re running in third-and-1 situations and stuff like that. I learned a lot from him.”
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer arrived at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis having studied mostly offensive guys and therefore didn’t want to comment much about Jack, but Zimmer admitted he has had success with his two former UCLA linebackers drafted in the last two years.
“I do have a fondness of UCLA linebackers because I have two, but I don’t really know enough about (Jack) yet,” Zimmer said. “I hear good things, but that’s it.”