Welcome along to the Vikings Edition of the ‘Invisible Men Series’. Within this feature we’ll take an in-depth look at some of the unsung heroes within every teams roster.
We’re all familiar with the men under center, star wideouts along with the outspoken cornerbacks who proclaim to be the best in the business, every single off-season. But what about that chain mover on third down? The specialist that can flip the field position with a swing of the leg? How about the run stuffing two down lineman, or the situational pass rusher?
The list is endless and whilst the diehard fans among us appreciate the limited, yet vital role these players play. Its time to enlighten those people encapsulated with showering praise on the franchise quarterback. Wake up! As without player ‘A’ that quarterback would either be on his back or throwing another errant pass!
Ladies and Gentlemen welcome to the “Invisible Men Series’
Minnesota Vikings Edition
Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter spent the first 8-years of life in St Catherine, Jamaica before moving to the United States. Hunter would go on to attend Morton Ranch High School in Caty Texas.
Initially Hunter wanted to play receiver for Morton Ranch High School, but after failing to impress his coaches at tryouts, Hunter switched to play defensive end. The move paid off as Hunter led his team to their first Class 5a State playoff appearance. Over the course of his high school career Hunter amassed 108 tackles. As well as dominating on the gridiron, Hunter excelled in track and field events (high jump, long jump, 400 meters).
As a freshman at Louisiana State University, Hunter featured mainly on special teams. It wasn’t until week 4 of his sophomore season that hunter cracked the starting lineup. Hunters impact as a starter was noteworthy, racking up 8 tackles during an impressive 35-21 victory over Auburn. LSU went on to win the Outback Bowl with a 21-14 victory over the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Hunter’s junior season would be his last with the team as he declared for the draft early. Starting in all 13 games Hunter would go on to compile 73 tackles (13 for a loss) and 1.5 sacks. During his 3-year stint with the Tigers, Hunter started 23 of 38 games, during which he recorded 142 tackles (21 for a loss) and 4.5 sacks.
Entering The draft
Scouting report via Ourlads.com ahead of the 2015 draft (selected by the Minnesota Vikings 3rd round, 88th pick overall).
Highly athletic with ideal length for an edge rusher. Has a frame that could add more weight without sacrificing speed and agility. Good straight-line speed and shows range and lateral mobility. Has long arms getting good extension and bats down a lot of balls. Good onfield awareness and reacts well to run/pass. Fluid in hips and can bend off the edge. Has an effective inside counter move and can dip and split double-teams. Strong against the run and can wrap up in open space. Seals the edge well. Strong in pursuit and takes good angles. Hunter is the latest in a long line of NFL caliber defensive linemen from LSU. Like many, he’s a better athlete than football player at this point, though his raw skill set is impressive. He’s an explosive player, despite not being necessarily explosive off the line. Has a huge ceiling in terms of developing into a pass rusher. Is still very raw and has a ways to go developmentally. Lacks an elite first step he should have considering his quick twitch muscles. Didn’t put up huge sack numbers despite playing around other highly talented linemen at LSU. Inconsistent use of hands shedding blocks. Doesn’t have a wide array of effective pass rushing moves. Needs to get stronger up top and on base.
Despite just one start, Danielle Hunter has made a huge impression during his first two years within the NFL. As a rookie, Hunter recorded 6 sacks (the second most among the 2015 rookie class). As the season progressed, Hunter’s role expanded furthermore, featuring in at least 50% of defensive snaps during 4 of the last 5 games, along with recording a sack in 3 consecutive games.
With a quick first step coupled with a mixture of physical and athletic prowess, Hunters dominance continued into 2016, playing 600 snaps on defense (57.97%). Along with an impressive career total of 18.5 sacks, Hunter excels against the run, which is rare among even the premier edge rushers. At the tender age of 22 Hunter’s looks set to create havoc in opposing backfields for years to come. Hunter is pushing to start from the first snap of the upcoming season and may well challenge the more familiar household names for the NFL’s sack leader title.
Yinka Ayinde covers the Vikings for Coldomaha.com Having endured the 2016 season, Yinka provided us with his assessment on Danille Hunter’s performance. You can follow Yinka on twitter @SaxyPrince.
Danielle Hunter has been a pleasant surprise for the Minnesota Vikings for past two years. Selected in the 3rd round in 2015 Hunter lead the Vikings in sacks with 12.5 sacks and is one of the leads youngest players. He has taking a leap forward due to his improvement on rush angles, which he struggled with as a rookie last year. Zimmer has employed more stunts between he and Vikings Defensive End Brian Robison to take advantage of Hunter’s athleticism.
Hunter will need to improve his hand placement to take full advantage of his strength and size. He is one of the few defensive ends in the league that rushes from a two point stance, but Zimmer has mentioned he did not want to change what felt comfortable to Hunter. If he continues to improve Hunter will be assigned a starting role at the Left Defensive End spot in 2017