Top 10 Minnesota Vikings of 2022: Where does Justin Jefferson rank?
No. 2: Danielle Hunter – OLB
Danielle Hunter was the most difficult to rank last year, as he didn’t play all of 2020. He didn’t do himself any favors by only playing 384 snaps in 2021 before having season-ending surgery on a torn pectoral muscle.
In the snaps Hunter did manage to play, he still proved he is one of the more dominant players in the league, which is what this ranking signifies.
Before he got hurt early in Week 8 on Halloween against the Dallas Cowboys, through the first six weeks, Hunter ranked sixth in PFF overall grade, seventh in pass rush grade, and fourth in total pressures among edge defenders.
Hunter was putting opposing tackles in a blender with his blend of length, speed, and athleticism. Not only were his individual numbers great, but the Vikings’ defense was much better with him on the field, too.
In those first six full weeks, Danielle Hunter was healthy, and Minnesota’s defense ranked fifth in EPA/play allowed and third in EPA/dropback allowed. In the weeks following Hunter’s injury, Minnesota ranked 22nd in EPA/play and 17th in EPA/dropback as a defense (info from rbsdm.com)
A combination of both Za’Darius Smith and Hunter healthy would be devastating for Minnesota’s opponents in 2022. Having them both available throughout the year might prove to be the tallest task yet, though.