5 pass rushers the Vikings could draft to replace Danielle Hunter in 2024

Former Penn State pass rusher Chop Robinson
Former Penn State pass rusher Chop Robinson / Dan Rainville / USA TODAY NETWORK

Every year, NFL teams lose a number of their high-value free agents. As much as each organization would like to keep its popular players, it’s not always financially possible. This offseason, for example, the Minnesota Vikings lost quarterback Kirk Cousins and edge rusher Danielle Hunter to other franchises that paid them mega millions.

Finding replacements for both will be a tall order for the Vikings. Hunter is one of the best pass rushers in the game and bagged double-digit sack totals in five of his eight years in Minnesota. So far, the Vikings have added free-agent outside linebackers Jonathan Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkel this offseason in an attempt to replicate Hunter’s production next season.

However, Minnesota still needs to find someone who will come close to matching the 16.5 sacks Hunter had in 2023, and that player could come from this year's NFL Draft.

So, who are some of the edge rushers the Vikings could draft in April to help replace Hunter next season?

5 pass rushers the Minnesota Vikings can draft in 2024 to replace Danielle Hunter

Chop Robinson - Penn State

Because of its need for a new franchise quarterback, it’s doubtful that the Vikings will use the 11th overall pick in this year's draft on an edge rusher. However, the team’s new 23rd overall selection (obtained in a trade with the Houston Texans earlier this month) could be a perfect spot for a new defensive end.

Chop Robinson is projected by numerous pre-draft speculators to go sometime late in the first round. Robinson, whose birth name is Demeioun, was given the nickname “Pork Chop” (or just “Chop” for short) when he was young. He’s a 6-foot-3, 245-pound tackling and sacking machine with three years of college playing experience.

He began his career at Maryland in 2021 before transferring to the Nittany Lions in 2022. During his two years at Penn State, Robinson had 31 total tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, and 9.5 sacks. Recently, he was timed in the 40-yard dash at a blistering 4.48 seconds.

Scouts love his first-step speed, explosiveness, flexibility, agility, and ability to change directions quickly. Those same scouts also note that Robinson is a tad undersized for his position and sometimes gets into the backfield so quickly that he will miss tackles.

Minnesota Vikings
Former Western Michigan pass rusher Marshawn Kneeland / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

Marshawn Kneeland - Western Michigan

Marshawn Kneeland is most likely a second-round candidate who played four years for the Broncos. While at Western Michigan, the 6-foot-3, 275-pound Kneeland racked up 81 tackles, including 28 for a loss, in addition to 12.5 sacks and three pass deflections. In 2023, he was a Second-Team All-MAC selection.

After playing in relative obscurity in college, Kneeland shined in the Senior Bowl earlier this year and made a name for himself at the NFL Scouting Combine. Scouts point out his ability to use his hands well to shed blockers. They also like his explosive motor and his non-stop production in college.

Negatives include too many arm tackles and not enough full-bodied tackles. Scouts note that Kneeland must improve his first step and work on his pass-rush moves instead of relying on brute force.

Mohamed Kamara - Colorado State

Kamara is a 6-foot-1, 250-pound, five-year athlete from Colorado State. When he was in high school, several top colleges passed on Kamara because of his small stature. However, he proved the skeptics wrong as a Ram.

During his career at CSU, Kamara built a reputation as a fierce run-stopper and quick pass rusher. He steadily improved his numbers every season until getting 29 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, one pass deflection, and two forced fumbles in 2023.

Kamara's play brought him accolades, including the Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year and a First-Team All-Mountain West selection.

Scouts note that Kamara has an elite second gear that continually baffles opponents as well as great leverage due to his size and great vision to see cut blocks ahead of time.

Kamara will need to work on his first step in the NFL and evaluators note that his size can lead him to get swallowed up by larger blockers. He’s a steal in the second or third rounds.

Minnesota Vikings
Former Kansas pass rusher Austin Booker / Evert Nelson/The Capital-Journal / USA

Austin Booker - Kansas

Austin Booker doesn’t have a lot of playing experience in college. However, when he did play, Booker’s talent jumped out to NFL scouts.

In 2021, he began his career at the University of Minnesota by red-shirting, then played limited ball with the Gophers in 2022. The 6-foot-6, 245-pound Booker then transferred to the University of Kansas and finally showed his potential.

During the 2023 season, Booker made an incredible 40 tackles, including 12 for loss, and an eye-popping eight sacks. After the season, he was named the Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year and was a First-Team All-Big 12 selection.

Booker could have returned for another season of college ball, yet decided to enter the NFL Draft.

Since he only shined in one full year in college, NFL teams note that Booker will be a work in progress in the pros. They like his size, strength, agility, speed, lateral movement, and good first punch against blockers. Booker projects to be a Day 2 or early Day 3 selection in this year's draft.

Jonah Elliss - Utah

Long-time NFL fans may recognize the Elliss name, as Jonah’s father, Luther, was a first-round pick of the Detroit Lions in 1995.

Luther Elliss then played in the NFL for the Lions and Denver Broncos through the 2004 season, and he was a two-time Pro Bowler for Detroit. Jonah’s brothers, Christian, Noah, and Kaden, all play in the NFL currently.

Jonah, like his father, played for the Utes and got playing time in the 2021, 2022, and 2023 seasons. After 26 total tackles and two sacks in 2022, Elliss was named an All-PAC-12 Honorable Mention. In 2023, he totaled 37 combined tackles, 12 sacks, and three pass deflections to bring home Consensus All-American and First-Team All-PAC-12 honors.

NFL scouts like the 6-foot-2, 246-pound Elliss’s ability to fight through traffic and recognize cut and crack-back blocks before they happen. They also note his willingness to engage opponents, lateral ability, and downfield pursuit.

Pro personnel would like Elliss to add more weight to withstand the NFL run game and to understand his gap responsibility. He is expected to likely be a middle-to-late-round selection in this year's draft.

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