4 Vikings players who will benefit most from a strong draft in 2021

(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Kirk Cousins
(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Kirk Cousins /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Danielle Hunter /

Danielle Hunter – DE

It didn’t take a genius to figure out that the Vikings sorely missed Danielle Hunter in 2020. Their pass-rush was almost non-existent at times without their star defensive end, which played a significant role in their dismal lack of production on defense.

Hunter is expected to make a full return to health next season, although there remains speculation about the player’s happiness with his current contract. Minnesota couldn’t offer the Pro Bowler the lucrative deal he is looking for even if they wanted to in the current financial climate, and considering the seriousness of his neck problem, it would be a big gamble from their standpoint.

If Hunter gets back to the form of old straight away, then a pay rise shouldn’t be too far behind next year when the cap is set to soar. Having Michael Pierce and free-agent arrival Dalvin Tomlinson on the interior will help the Vikings an untold amount. Still, they also need another pass-rushing option coming into the organization via the draft.

Must Read: Minnesota Vikings go defense first in final 2021 mock draft

This isn’t the deepest draft class in recent memory for defensive linemen. If the Vikings want to find themselves a Day 1 starter then it would have to be with their first-rounder, with names like Jaelan Phillips and Kwity Paye being strongly linked with the team during the evaluation process.

Either of those prospects would be a significant upgrade on anything Minnesota currently has. Nobody would welcome their potential arrival more than Hunter, who could get some extra space to work in as a result.