3 small changes that could make a major difference for Vikings in 2022
By Dean Jones
Switching Danielle Hunter to a 3-4 OLB
Getting Danielle Hunter back is one thing.
Keeping him healthy is another matter these days.
The stud pass-rusher has featured just seven times over the last two seasons, which obviously derailed things from a defensive standpoint. Hunter is extremely influential at the peak of his powers and the Vikings made the right call keeping him around despite the player’s reported contractual unhappiness during the recent past.
Minnesota is moving forward with a 3-4 base defense under Ed Donatell. This is likely to see Hunter move from a defensive end to an outside linebacker, which is something to monitor extremely closely when competitive games begin.
This should help the Vikings and Hunter enormously. It gives the team a consistent run stopper at the second level behind the front three and should also provide the player with additional space to do damage, providing those ahead of him on the defensive line clog up enough space.
Couple this with the free-agent signing of Za’Darius Smith, and the Vikings once again have a dynamic pass-rushing tandem. If either needs rest to preserve their fitness, then the defense also has plenty of young talent capable of filling the void temporarily.
Hunter still has the scope to produce elite numbers. And the move to a 3-4 outside linebacker only enhances his chances of taking the league by storm.