5 best pairings on the Minnesota Vikings roster in 2022

(Photo by Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports) Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen
(Photo by Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports) Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports) Danielle Hunter /

Danielle Hunter & Za’Darius Smith – 3-4 OLBs

This is all dependent on whether Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith can remain healthy long enough to make their presence felt in 2022. But the Vikings will be counting on them heavily with new defensive coordinator Ed Donatell switching to a 3-4 base scheme moving forward.

At the peak of their powers, Hunter and Smith are dominant, game-wrecking figures that can alter the course of any game. It’s keeping both on the field that’s been the biggest problem over the last two seasons.

Hunter’s progress was halted by a series of long-term issues that have restricted the former third-round pick to just seven games over the last two campaigns. He looks fit and ready to rock this time around, but there’s no way to say for sure if his problems are a thing of the past.

The arrival of Smith from the Green Bay Packers was a surprise considering the fierce rivalry between them and the Vikings. However, getting released probably stung and the edge defender will be doing everything in his power in the coming months to make his old employers pay for this judgment call.

There is an enormous sense of expectation about what Smith and Hunter could do as a tandem. If they stay healthy throughout the season, then expect them to be among the most prolific pass-rushing pairings anywhere in the NFL.