News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Mon. Jan. 24, 2022: Caribbean immigrant Danielle Hunter was on pace to become one of the greatest pass-rushers of NFL history after recording 54.5 sacks in his first five seasons in the league. The native Jamaican defensive end was unheralded entering the league in 2015 out of the LSU Tigers as the 88th overall pick in the draft for the Minnesota Vikings, but he became a stud pass-rusher under the tenure of Mike Zimmer.
Minnesota will be undergoing an off-season of change following the departures of both general manager Rick Spielman and Zimmer, who were fired after another disappointing term. The Vikings will once again be looking up at the Green Bay Packers in the 2022 season as Matt LaFleur’s men will be backed in the NFL odds to win the NFC North for a fourth term in a row. Consulting the latest NFL tips before the start of the campaign will give you a better indication of the lay of the land in the NFC North, but it will take a special effort from the new men in Minnesota and the players on the roster to revive the fortunes of the Vikings as a threat in the division.
Hunter played a significant role in deep surges into the post-season, although the Vikings fell narrowly short of the Super Bowl. Hunter’s performances never waned and his massive total of 54.5 sacks put him on course to match the modern-day greats such as Michael Strahan, Julius Peppers, and Demarcus Ware. However, injuries have limited the defensive end to only seven games over the past two seasons, suffering a neck problem in 2020 and a torn pectoral muscle in 2021.
Hunter, more than most, has to play his role, although he is entering a decisive point of his career. When he has been on the field, Hunter has been productive, notching six sacks in only seven games in the 2021 season. Offensive coordinators and linemen always have to account for Hunters’ presence on the field due to his speed and strength, making him a constant threat to get to the quarterback. The 27-year-old has great size and length, which forces a change in strategy from opposing tackles, it’s very hard to keep him at bay for long. It is why he has been so successful at setting a record-breaking sack pace.
Whoever arrives at Minnesota in the general manager and head coaching positions will have a player of the highest caliber in terms of pass-rushing. There will be a challenge for Hunter to adapt to his new coach as he will likely be deployed in a new scheme. Zimmer was known for getting the best out of his defensive ends over a long career in the NFL, whether it was at the Vikings, Cincinnati Bengals, and Dallas Cowboys.
A new coach may require a different approach from Hunter, rather than just allowing him to pursue opposing quarterbacks without regard for containing or runstopping. Therefore, it could be difficult for him to rack up the statistics that he has been used to attaining in his pursuit of the leading sackers in NFL history could be stymied. It is a crux point in the NFL career of Hunter, but at the age of only 27, he has time on his side to refocus for the second stage of his tenure.