Danielle Hunter has quietly worked himself into one of the league's best pass rushers, even if he sometimes doesn't get the credit he deserves.
Bucky Brooks knows all about the Vikings defensive end, however, as the NFL.com analyst and former NFL player recently listed Hunter among the best of the best in terms of current players that can get to the quarterback.
Brooks opined that the 25-year-old Hunter is the third-best pass rusher in the league today.
The former third-round pick has quickly joined the ranks of the elite, notching 48.5 sacks over the past four seasons. Hunter has outstanding first-step quickness, and he's capable of winning with speed or power off the edge.
He uses a slippery dip-and-rip maneuver to turn the corner and complements it with a variety of hand-to-hand combat moves that enable him to win with power. Hunter is an artistic technician with a refined game that's about as polished as you'll find at the position.
Hunter has 54.5 sacks in 78 career games, only 49 of which have been starts. He has 36.0 sacks since becoming a full-time starter in 2017, including back-to-back seasons with 14.5 sacks in 2018 and 2019.
Hunter made his second consecutive Pro Bowl in 2019, when he was named a Second-Team All-Pro selection. The 2015 draft pick and former LSU Tiger made history this past season when he became the youngest player in NFL history to reach 50 career sacks.
Hunter ranked third on the list behind Arizona's Chandler Jones and Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan.
Jones leads the NFL with 96.0 sacks and 27 forced fumbles since he entered the league in 2012, and recorded 19.0 sacks in 2019.
Jordan, the son of Vikings Ring of Honor member Steve Jordan, has 58.0 sacks since the start of the 2015 season.
Bears linebacker Khalil Mack and Pittsburgh's T.J. Watt rounded out the rankings.
King delves into Vikings virtual WR meeting
The Vikings, like every other NFL team, are currently conducting their offseason program in a virtual world.
While Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer last week detailed how the team is conducting virtual meetings, Peter King of NBC Sports recently chatted with a few participants of the meetings.
King took a look at the Vikings 10-man wide receivers group — Chad Beebe, Dan Chisena, Davion Davis, Quartney Davis, Alexander Hollins, Justin Jefferson, Dillon Mitchell, K.J. Osborn, Tajae Sharpe and Adam Thielen — plus wide receivers coach Andrew Janocko and assistant Christian Jones.
Janocko is in his first year as the wide receivers coach after serving as the assistant offensive line coach for the past three seasons.
The 32-year-old coach told King:
"Our attitude is to turn every situation into a positive. This is the hand we're dealt—everybody's dealt the same hand. So let's find a way to turn this into an advantage. The biggest challenge, I think, is to make sure everybody understands everything you're teaching. You can't see them the way you'd see them in a room, so if anything, I over-communicate," Janocko said. "I never assume anyone knows anything. Some guys, if their internet is slow one day, or if my voice skips and he misses a point I made, I've got to be sure he tells me and we get it right. Basically, never assume the guys all have it till you get that reinforcement that they do.
"I'm fortunate in that my sister and my dad are both teachers; my dad's a teacher and a coach. I've reached out to both of them quite a bit," Janocko added. "I ask, 'How do you use this medium to keep guys engaged? That's what they say — over-communicate. I know this: We'll never take it for granted again when we're all together in one room."
Thielen, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, also offered up what advice he gives to younger players.
"I like to be able to share with the guys the little things I do to maybe help them understand a concept or a route," said Thielen, 29, who is the oldest player in the room. "I think it's gone pretty smooth. Andrew will put up the route and then some video to illustrate it … It's really not too much different from learning in a meeting room."
Thielen also told King that the COVID-19 pandemic has actually allowed him to eliminate outside distractions as he focuses on his family and football.
"The one benefit, I've found, is how much more time I can devote to my family and to my training and nutrition," Thielen said. "I'm not traveling, and I don't have a lot of things to do outside of football and family, so I feel it's been the best offseason for me as far as preparing for the season."
The NFL currently allows players to partake in two hours of virtual classroom work per day, up to four days a week.