Danielle Hunter tied for fourth in the league with 14.5 sacks last season.
He has racked up an impressive 40 sacks since being drafted 88th overall in 2015, and he has yet to turn 25 years old (his birthday is Oct. 29).
Hunter is a physical specimen, but don’t take our word for it. If there’s one person who knows pass rushers, it’s former Browns tackle Joe Thomas, who retired in 2017 after 11 NFL seasons – six of which he was named an All-Pro.
Thomas recently ranked his top 10 pass rushers for NFL.com. Worth noting is that he includes 3-4 outside linebackers and 4-3 defensive ends, in addition to a pair of interior linemen. He tabbed Hunter 10th on the list, comparing him to a four-time NBA MVP. Thomas wrote:
When watching film of the Minnesota Vikings, it struck me that Hunter’s physique is reminiscent of LeBron James with pads. He possesses long arms and legs and has the lower-body power to push offensive linemen back into the quarterback. There is no limit to Hunter’s ability, as he has the unique blend of size and athleticism that has put those before him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He can get offensive tackles off balance with his speed, then move quickly to a swim move to counter. Hunter is athletic enough to win matchups rushing the passer or dropping into coverage, making him an asset in any defense. These attributes give him an advantage of unpredictability, which takes his game to another level.
Ranked ahead of Hunter by Thomas (in order from 9-1, respectively) were DE Joey Bosa (Chargers), DE DeMarcus Lawrence (Cowboys), DE Chandler Jones (Cardinals), DT Chris Jones (Chiefs), DE Myles Garrett (Browns), OLB Von Miller (Broncos), DE J.J. Watt (Texans), OLB Khalil Mack (Bears) and DT Aaron Donald (Rams).
Thomas wrote the following of Mack, whom the Vikings will face twice during the season:
I played Mack twice in my career, and we used to call him a rolling ball of butcher knives, because he was so explosive, you couldn’t slow him down. He’s a phenomenal pass rusher – and if anyone needed more proof of this before he was traded to Chicago last September ... well ... no one is now questioning his ability to wreck run or pass plays after watching him rack up 12.5 sacks, 47 tackles and 10 tackles for loss with the Bears in 2018. He must be double-teamed on pass plays to allow the quarterback time to get the ball out. Unfortunately for opposing offenses, Mack has no problem splitting double teams, getting to the passer and either sacking him or getting a strip sack. The guy is unbelievable.
Vikings WR corps ranked NFL’s 8th-best by PFF
It can be argued that Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen are the NFL’s best tandem.
But how does Minnesota’s entire receiving corps stack up against the rest of the league?
Analytics site Pro Football Focus on Wednesday ranked all 32 teams based on their pass catchers and tabbed the Vikings at No. 8. PFF wrote:
On PFF’s list of best pass-catching tandems entering the 2019 NFL season, Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs were right where they belong: No. 1. They earned overall grades of 89.4 and 81.1, respectively, and paired to have the best hands in the league. On 290 targets combined, only six passes were dropped between the two. And don’t sleep on Kyle Rudolph, who has notched passer ratings when targeted above 100.0 in each of the past five seasons.
Ranked ahead of Minnesota were Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles (Rams), Atlanta and, topping the list, Philadelphia.
View photos of the team going on a surprise trip to the Vikings Museum led by Head Coach Mike Zimmer.
3 Vikings Legends could be in discussion for HOF as part of NFL 100
According to Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press, three Vikings Legends are on a list of “senior candidates” that could be in discussion for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Defensive end Jim Marshall, running back Chuck Foreman and guard Ed White, each waiting decades for possible induction into the Canton, Ohio, shrine, could see their chances increase Friday.
As part of the 100-year celebration of the NFL, the Hall of Fame’s board of trustees will vote on a proposal that could increase the 2020 class to 20, 12 more than the usual, and include 10 senior candidates.
Tomasson quoted Rick Gosselin, a longtime member of the senior selection committee, who said, “It’ll get approved.”
Gosselin believes Marshall has the best chance because he has been a Hall of Fame finalist, while Foreman and White never have. Marshall was a modern-era finalist in 2004 shortly before he became eligible for senior consideration.
Gosselin, who was a longtime writer for the Dallas Morning News, said it’s unlikely two seniors who primarily played with the same franchise would be selected. Competition, he said, will be stiff.