Danielle Hunter is a darkhorse DPOY candidate
By: Jake Rajala
The Minnesota Vikings have a Prometheus-like edge rusher in Danielle Hunter. The Vikings mythical pass rusher Jared Allen recently stated that Hunter told him that he was going to break his sack record (22). I believe that the Jamaican-born football player (Hunter) should feel very enthusiastic about his chances of unleashing 20+ sacks and a DPOY-winning season in 2022.
It was clear that Hunter was on an unearthly pace in 2021 with six sacks, 10 quarterback hits, and six tackles for loss in seven contests. His best performance unequivocally came against the Arizona Cardinals – where he unleashed three sacks, seven tackles, and two stuffs. PFF gave him a fine 80.8 grade for his 2021 performance.
Hunter will not only be healthy, but he will also be licking his chops against weak divisional foes (such as CHI and DET). He was mopping the floor against his competition last season, yet he only played one game against the Lions and zero contests against the Bears. Similar to Aaron Donald in his latest DPOY-winning campaign, the Vikings edge rusher should look to rack up his stats against CHI and DET in the near future. Let’s not forget that Hunter has a thing or two for proving to A-Rod that he didn’t see the light until he was already a man.
Hunter will not only benefit from staying on the field and going into John Wick-mode against his archnemesis, but I also foresee the Vikings passing offense to actually help Hunter, as well. I expect the Vikings new-look passing attack w/ a healthy Irv Smith Jr. to really light up the scoreboard – which should force opposing signal-callers to aim to keep pace with Captain Kirk. Hence, Hunter will have a plethora of moments to pin his ears back and unveil unusual sack figures.
The Vikings blood-thirsty pass rusher plays the golden position (edge rusher) to win DPOY, too. Of course, T.J. Watt won DPOY last season (after tying Michael Strahan’s sack record of 22.5 sacks). It should be noted that Football Outsiders feels the odds are stacked against Watt repeating his 2021 DPOY feat. I also believe the 31-year-old Aaron Donald, who is still arguably one of the Mount Rushmore defenders, to not win DPOY (for the second year in a row) if a pass rusher has at least very close to a record-breaking sack season w/ other top-tier edge-rushing statistics in 2022. Allen and John Randle defied expectations in their Vikings journey. Perhaps Hunter can climb mountains and take an unexpected leap towards defensive gold next season.