When people speak about Danielle Hunter, including us here on this blog, the first word to describe the defensive end is typically “raw”.
He was a two-year starter at LSU, starting 23 of the 38 games he played in. When you watched how Hunter played, it’s clear there’s still plenty he has to learn and it’s not necessarily his fault. Hunter was just doing what the LSU coaching staff told him to do. Plus, he was very young in college.
While it’s extremely difficult to gauge how players in the trenches look during OTAs and minicamp without pads, you can observe technique. Hands and feet are two vital elements along the defensive line, and Hunter appears to be on the right track in those areas so far.
“He has outstanding skills and it’s just how fast he can progress from there,” Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said. “I’ve seen him progress throughout these 13 days we’ve had, and he still a very young guy. He was a junior coming out, but I like a lot of things he does and he’s a great kid.”
It helps when your arms measured at 34 ¼ inches at the NFL Combine. Hunter, listed at 6-5 and 252 pounds, is hard to miss when lined up on the defensive line. It’s a unit that had interior depth with the emergence of defensive tackles Sharrif Floyd, Shamar Stephen and Tom Johnson over the course of last season. Now, the Vikings hope to bring depth at defensive end as well with the addition of Hunter.
“We always like size, especially up font, in the front seven,” defensive coordinator George Edwards said. “You don’t have to be down in the box as much with the safety, so from that aspect of it, we do like the size we have up front the length is a big thing especially with the quarterback having to throw over them versus the pass.”
We’ll find out more on how the Vikings plan to use Hunter during training camp, but it doesn’t sound like he’ll have a “redshirt” season like Scott Crichton did last year. Hunter was able to work with the team during OTAs, whereas Crichton couldn’t participate until Oregon State wrapped up its quarters.
If Hunter’s already making progress with his technique before training camp, and he retains it over the next month, it’ll help this “raw” prospect during his first NFL training camp.