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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Sacks don’t tell the story: Danielle Hunter had a strong first half

By Matthew Coller

Last season, Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter emerged as one of the league’s premier pass rushers, picking up 12.5 sacks while only playing around 60% of defensive snaps. This year, as a full-time starter, he only has 3.0 sacks in eight games. But the sack statistic doesn’t always provide an accurate analysis of how a pass rusher performed.

According to Football Outsiders, Hunter has been in the face of opposing quarterbacks as much as any of the best D-lineman and outside linebackers in the NFL. FO’s charting data has tracked 23.5 individual pass pressures. That ranks fifth in the NFL behind only Aaron Donald, Melvin Ingram, Carlos Dunlap and Khalil Mack.

Hunter’s two-sack game came against the Detroit Lions. He added six more pressures of Matt Stafford against Detroit’s highly paid right tackle Rick Wagner on just 33 pass snaps. Against the Browns, Hunter caused a key fumble that set up a go-ahead field goal for the Vikings in the second half.

Hunter currently has a higher Pro Football Focus grade than last year. In fact, he’s already surpassed his pressure total from last season (19). Also Hunter has played a key role in the Vikings becoming the league’s third best team against the run. PFF ranks Hunter 18th against the run and 21st overall, just behind Jadaveon Clowney.

In terms of bang for the Vikngs’ buck, Hunter has brought incredible value over the last two seasons, making under $1.2 million total between 2016 and 2017. If he continues to pressure opposing QBs and his sacks presumably pick up in the second half, Hunter could be the next Vikings defender in line for a huge contract extension. He’s set to be a free agent after 2018.

Everson Griffen, who has 10.0 sacks in eight games, signed a contract extension that takes him through 2023 with an average annual value of $14.5 million and $18.8 million guaranteed. With Hunter’s age (23), he may require higher guaranteed dollars, possibly closer to the $30 million guaranteed Jaguars gave Calais Campbell.

The Vikings won’t have to address contract until after the season. For now, Hunter has proven he can be a starter and all-around D-end – even if the sacks haven’t yet come this year.

The post Sacks don’t tell the story: Danielle Hunter had a strong first half appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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