Skip to main content

Vikings UDFA Profile: Cincinnati LB Ivan Pace Jr.

Pace was one of the most high-profile prospects to go undrafted this year. He's got a real chance to make the Vikings' roster.
  • Author:
  • Publish date:

Last month, Inside the Vikings broke down 13 members of Minnesota's 2023 undrafted free agent class. Now it's time to get to the two stars of the class.

Vikings UDFA profile: Cincinnati LB Ivan Pace Jr.

  • Size: 5'10, 231
  • RAS: 5.71
  • 2022 stats: 136 tackles, 20.5 TFL, 9.0 sacks, 4 PD, 2 FF

Ivan Pace Jr. is not only one of the headliners of the Vikings' 2023 UDFA class, he's viewed by some analysts as one of the best prospects to go undrafted this year, period. PFF ranked him as their No. 1 undrafted player, while ESPN's Todd McShay had him second on his list. Many thought Pace would be drafted as high as the fourth round after his dominant 2022 season.

A Cincinnati native, Pace spent three years at Miami (OH) before spending last season with his hometown team. As a true freshman at Miami, he tied an NCAA single-game record with six sacks in a win over Akron. He really broke out in 2021, racking up 125 tackles, 13 TFLs, four sacks, and his first career interception. Pace then transferred to Miami and managed to put up even more ridiculous numbers on his way to unanimous All-American honors.

Simply put, Pace was one of the best college linebackers in the country last season. He was PFF's highest-graded LB and led the position in tackles for loss within the FBS. So why did he go undrafted? As is often the case, size is the primary culprit. Pace is significantly undersized at just 5'10", 231 pounds, which drags his RAS down to 5.71 despite a solid 4.62 40 and good numbers in the bench press and vertical jump.

The Vikings, who gave Pace $236,000 in guaranteed money, were thrilled to land him after the draft.

"He was a major priority for us," head coach Kevin O'Connell said in May. "Felt like his tape was one of the best linebackers in the draft, we really thought. How he plays, he's physical, he gets off blocks and is a tackling machine. Excited to have him in that room and see a lot of upside for him."

It's important to realize that size is important in the NFL and that all 32 teams passed on Pace across seven rounds because of it. Still, with his playmaking ability and relentless motor, it feels like Pace has a real chance to make the Vikings' 53-man roster as a rookie and maybe even work his way onto the field, starting on special teams.

An off-ball linebacker can't get 20.5 TFLs and nine sacks by accident. Pace has strong play recognition ability and flies to the ball, avoiding or shedding blocks along the way. It's exciting to think about his fit in Brian Flores' defense, given what he brings as a blitzing pass-rusher.

Vikings' offseason inside linebacker depth chart

  • Jordan Hicks
  • Brian Asamoah
  • Troy Reeder
  • Troy Dye
  • William Kwenkeu
  • Ivan Pace Jr. (rookie)
  • Wilson Huber (rookie)
  • Abraham Beauplan (rookie)

Other Vikings UDFA profiles

Baylor TE Ben Sims

Indiana CB Jaylin Williams

Oklahoma CB C.J. Coldon

Georgia Southern CB NaJee Thompson

North Carolina State WR Thayer Thomas

Southeastern Louisiana WR/QB Cephus Johnson III

Kansas State WR Malik Knowles

Illinois DT Calvin Avery

Georgia K Jack Podlesny

Pace (D-II) OL Jacky Chen

TCU OL Alan Ali

Cincinnati LB Wilson Huber

Marshall LB Abraham Beauplan

Thanks for reading. Make sure to bookmark this site and check back daily for the latest Vikings news and analysis all offseason long. Also, follow me on Twitter and feel free to ask me any questions on there.