In his second year as a full-time starter for the Minnesota Vikings, will the defensive end finish the 2018 season with more or less than 10 sacks?
Prior to the 2017 season, Danielle Hunter was primarily used as a situational player on defense for the Minnesota Vikings. Despite this, Hunter was still able to accumulate 18.5 sacks in his first two years with the Vikings.
His impressive production in 2015 and 2016 led Minnesota to making the defensive end a full-time starter last season. Hunter finished 2017 with just seven sacks, but his impact was definitely still felt by opposing offenses.
The Vikings’ young pass rusher ended last season with a total of 68 pressures, which included 54 hurries and five quarterback hits. Hunter had the most pressures of any Minnesota defender in 2017 (Everson Griffen had 61).
So it’s not like Hunter did not have ton of chances to get to opposing quarterbacks last season, he just was not able to turn them into sacks. Another offseason under the guidance of Vikings defensive line coach Andre Patterson should help the young pass rusher increase his sack total in 2018.
Hunter will possibly be a little more relaxed during the upcoming season knowing that he is now under contract with Minnesota until 2024. Now that he will not be a free-agent in 2019, it could allow the Vikings defensive end to play more free and maybe figure out some new ways to get to the quarterback.
Minnesota adding defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson this offseason should make it easier for Hunter in 2018 as well. Richardson is talented enough that he should be able to take some of the pressure away from the Vikings’ edge-rushers and provide them with more one-on-one situations.
Although Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer does not put a ton of emphasis on the sack totals of his players, it really would be surprising if Hunter finished with less than 10 sacks in 2018.