Lunchbreak: ESPN Lists Hunter as Best Defensive Player in NFL Under 25 Years Old

Danielle Hunter is tied for second in the NFL with 11.5 sacks and has the ability to take over a game with his blend of strength, speed and athleticism.

The Vikings defensive end was a third-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft but has blossomed into one of Minnesota’s key pieces on defense and is a player the Vikings rewarded this summer with a contract extension.

But Hunter is also just 24 years old, and Mike Sando of ESPN believes Hunter is one of the top defensive players in the game.

Sando recently ranked the top 25 players in the NFL who are under 25 years old, and had Hunter slotted at No. 8 on his list.

But the first seven players on Sando list included a quarterback, wide receiver and five running backs, so the ESPN writer believes Hunter is the top young defensive player in the NFL.

Sando wrote:

This makes Hunter the best — or at least among the best — young defensive players in the league. His 37 career sacks are 11 more than any other current player younger than 25 can claim.

"He's a complete player who plays the run and is a difference-maker," a personnel director said. "He has already developed a great deal and has a long way he can still go."

Hunter will turn 25 years old in October of 2019. The former LSU product has 37 career sacks in 57 career games. He has 19 sacks in 28 career starts.

Thielen’s incredible snag ranks among Week 12’s most improbable catches

It seems as if Adam Thielen makes a catch each week that makes Vikings fans shake their head in amazement.

Minnesota’s Week 12 win over Green Bay was no different, as the Vikings wide receiver pulled off yet another insane reception to help power the Vikings to a victory in Border Battle No. 117.

A little more than midway through the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium, Thielen hauled in a 33-yard pass from Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. According to NFL.com’s Next Gen Stats, the duo had just a 16.2-percent chance for a completion on the throw.

NFL.com put together a video highlighting some other stats and numbers for the play. According to the video, Cousins’ pass traveled 35.8 yards in the air and the quarterback was just 1.4 yards away from a defender when he threw the pass.

Thielen played a pivotal role in the play, as he had just 0.7 yards of separation against Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander.

Cousins explained the play after the 24-17 win.

“Well, the corner route earlier in the game, I think it was first half, that’s an unbelievable catch,” Cousins said. “I don’t know if I want to live by making those throws into double coverage.

“The safety is coming over the top and he would encourage me to make that throw time and again, but that one he made a great play - thrilled with the outcome,” Cousins added. “I don’t know if I want to be making those over and over.”

Thielen had yet another impressive performance on Sunday, hauling in eight total catches for 125 yards and a score against Green Bay. He had 20 catches for 256 yards and two touchdowns in two games against the Packers in 2018.

The All-Pro wide receiver leads the NFL with 93 receptions, ranks second with 1,138 yards and is tied for the third-most touchdowns catches with eight.

Vote for Thielen and Vikings teammates for the Pro Bowl here.

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