Minnesota Vikings: Danielle Hunter Following Familiar Career Path

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports /

Over the past decade, the Minnesota Vikings have been a factory of talented defensive linemen. Danielle hunter, a second-year defensive end, has followed the template set by another Vikings star lineman.

Minnesota Vikings second year defensive end, Danielle Hunter, is reminiscent of another Vikings play maker who carved out a similar narrative in his early career.

In 2011, Jared Allen came a half sack short of the all-time NFL season record for the Minnesota Vikings. Sitting behind him on the depth chart was an energetic, second-year player from USC. That player was Everson Griffen.

Griffen, a fourth-round draft pick, came off the bench in his second year to record four sacks and two batted balls–not bad for a player sitting behind the high-motor of Jared Allen. Griffen also made an impact on special teams as a gunner–a rare position for a 270-pound defensive lineman, but he showed fitting athleticism.

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Danielle Hunter, a fourth round pick out of LSU, is also making waves as a second-year pro.

Last season, in limited reps as a rookie, Hunter had six sacks subbing in for Brian Robison and Everson Griffen. This year, Hunter already has a sack in each of the first three games coming off the bench.

In Griffen’s next two years behind Jared Allen, he recorded 13.5 sacks and a pick six. During the two years after Allen’s departure, Griffen averaged double-digit sacks and emerged as one of the league’s best 4-3 pass rushers–this year he leads all 4-3 pass rushers in sacks (4). Griffen also has a forced fumble every year since 2011.

Although Griffen’s career has been fantastic and only appears to be getting better, Danielle Hunter has somehow shown even more potential. His production is better earlier in his career, and he has demonstrated that he is a fast learner under head coach Mike Zimmer. Like Griffen, Hunter also has a strip sack for each of his playing years in the league, and he has scored a safety and a defensive touchdown already.

It took Everson Griffen four years to earn the starting job at defensive end, and, like Griffen, Danielle Hunter appears ready for a starting role. Brian Robison, however, isn’t making that decision easy as he has already tallied two sacks and a forced fumble this season.

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Having too many excellent defensive linemen is a good problem for the Minnesota Vikings to have. When Danielle Hunter finally earns his starting spot, don’t be surprised if there is another young Viking behind him, chasing his shadow.