Experience: Two Years
Acquired: Selected in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft (46th overall selection)
Mychal Kendricks had a very nice rookie season in 2012, starting 14 games and finishing third on the team with 88 total tackles. He also recorded eight tackles for loss, the most by an Eagles rookie since the statistic started being kept in 1999. But entering 2013, there were still some questions to be answered by Kendricks. He missed the final game of 2012 with a concussion, and he was changing roles as part of the Eagles' switch to a 3-4 defensive look. Entering his second season in Philadelphia, the California product certainly had a lot on his plate.
Fortunately for Eagles fans, Kendricks was very hungry.
In 2013, Kendricks seemed to be around the ball on every play. Whether he was darting into the backfield to take down a running back for a loss or dropping back in coverage and racing to get to the ballcarrier first, Kendricks was there. He recorded 137 total tackles and four sacks. He was also a turnover machine, intercepting the first three passes of his career, forcing one fumble and recovering a league-high four fumbles.
Without a doubt, the 23-year-old has benefitted from playing alongside fellow inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans. As far as mentors and leaders go around the NFL, there are not many players better than Ryans. The two have formed an interesting tandem in the middle of the Eagles defense, and has time moves forward, it will be interesting to watch that chemistry continue to grow. In fact, Kendricks and Ryans became the first pair of Eagles linebackers to each record at least four sacks and at least two interceptions in the same season. No. 95 has truly been a terrific reflection of No. 59.
In just his second NFL season, Kendricks emerged as a budding superstar, gaining national attention for his play. The Eagles' 2012 draft class is already being spoken about as one of the team's best in recent memory, with names like Nick Foles, Brandon Boykin, Vinny Curry and Fletcher Cox, and Kendricks has proven to be another fantastic selection by the Eagles front office. It also appears as if Kendricks hasn't even reached the ceiling of his potential yet, a thought that is spectacular to Eagles fans and terrifying to the other teams in the NFC East.
Top Plays of the Year
One of the best parts of Kendricks' play this past season was that he seemed to step up his game when the moment called for it. For evidence, look no further than the Eagles' Week 17 matchup with the Dallas Cowboys. With a trip to the playoffs and the division crown on the line, Kendricks showed a primetime audience that he is a force to be reckoned with by recording 11 total tackles. On the Dallas' first possession of the game, the Cowboys were able to drive into Eagles' territory. With the crowd getting into the game early, the Eagles needed a big play to stop Dallas' momentum. On a first-and-10 play from the Eagles' 28-yard line, running back DeMarco Murray took the handoff up the middle, and in came Kendricks with a perfectly placed hit, popping the ball out of Murray's hands and right into the awaiting arms of cornerback Bradley Fletcher.
Later in the game Kendricks came up huge again. With two minutes remaining in the first half, the Eagles led 10-7, but Dallas was once again driving with the ball, in search of taking the lead before halftime. But when Jason Witten couldn't corral a Kyle Orton pass right around midfield, Kendricks was there to pick the ball out of the air for the interception. Two plays later, the Eagles were in the end zone and eventually took a 17-10 lead into the half. Kendrick's two turnover-forcing plays not only kept the Cowboys off of the scoreboard, but the Eagles put up 10 points in the ensuing drives.
Kendricks became one of three players in Eagles history to post at least four sacks and three interceptions in a season, joining William Thomas (1996) and Seth Joyner (1991 and '92). He was also one of only five NFL players to do so in 2013.