Danielle Hunter NFL bio

The Vikings' third-round pick might be raw, but Danielle Hunter is athletic.

Danielle Hunter

Rush Defensive End/Strong-side Outside Linebacker
Louisiana State University Tigers
Katy, Texas
Morton Ranch High School


While most teams view Hunter as a defensive end, teams utilizing the 3-4 alignment see Hunter as a carbon copy of a recent Louisiana State standout – Cleveland Browns right outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo, who was known at the Baton Rouge training facility for being a “workout warrior.” Having mentored the younger recruits while attending LSU, Mingo’s work ethic was noticed by Hunter, who would coincidentally perform the same way that Mingo did – take no prisoners – when it came to disrupting the opposing backfield.

Mingo recorded 119 tackles through 40 games at LSU, making 29.0 stops behind the line of scrimmage that included 15 sacks. Hunter managed more tackles, posting 142 hits in 38 contests, including 21.0 stops-for-loss and while he was not as productive as a pass rusher (4.5), both players show that lateral agility and range to make plays covering vs. the pass, a requirement for any linebacker in the National Football League.

While their production numbers are similar, so is their athleticism. Mingo stands 6-4.5 and checks in at 251 pounds, with Hunter just a little under a half inch taller. At the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine, Mingo was timed at 4.58 in the 40-yard dash, turning in a 1.59 10-yard time and 2.65 at the 20-yard marker. Hunter delivered times of 1.57 seconds in the 10-yard dash, 2.67 in the 20- and 4.57 in the 40-yard dash at the 2015 event. Mingo put up the weights 19 times in the 225-pound bench press, as Hunter recorded 25 repetitions.

Even though he might be too light to play a down lineman’s position at the next level, Hunter has very good strength and shows fluid knee bend, staying low in his pads, as he has those cat-like reflexes that teams desire from edge rushers when on the move. He is very effective extending his long arms (83¼-inch wingspan was the third-longest for any defensive end or linebacker at the 2015 NFL Combine) to keep blockers off his chest.

The junior’s progression to linebacker in the NFL could be seamless, as much like his former teammate (Mingo), he has good lateral agility and good avoidance skills when slower offensive tackles try to mirror his moves. He has outstanding closing speed to chase and move through traffic. He plays with very good effort, especially when closing from the back side.

Hunter attended Morton Ranch High School in Harris County, Texas, where he was a two-sport star in football and track. He led his football team to their first Class 5A state playoff appearance after he tallied 63 tackles and seven sacks in his junior season. As a senior, he recorded 30 quarterback pressures, 11 tackles for losses, four sacks and four pass breakups, while also catching four passes for 63 yards and a score.

Hunter recorded 108 total tackles during his career, closing it out with a 16-tackle performance vs. Houston-Lamar. He was rated the 14th-best defensive end in the country by Scout.com.

In track and field, he competed in both sprinting and jumping events. At the 2011 District 19-5A Meet, he won the district title in the high jump, with a leap of 1.84 meters (6 ft, 0 in), while also placing fifth in the long jump, with a leap of 6.40 meters (20 ft, 11.5 in), and sixth in the 400-meter dash, with a time of 51.47 seconds.

Hunter arrived on the Louisiana State campus a lanky 235-pound true freshman, measuring in with just four percent body fat. Born on the island of Jamaica, Hunter quickly adapted to the game of football, but during his freshman season, the coaches’ plans were to bring him along slowly. Even though he appeared in twelve games, his 2012 campaign was spent mostly on special teams, posting twelve tackles for his efforts.

With Mingo leaving school for life in the National Football League as a Cleveland Browns linebacker, Hunter was the “next man up” to step into the right defensive end spot, as he joined the first unit for the final ten games on the 2013 schedule. He produced 57 tackles with three sacks and eight stops-for-loss, but his 19 solo tackles showed that he was thinking more, rather than reacting.

Hunter was not pleased with his performance during his first season as a starter and was determined not to repeat past mistakes again in 2014. That meant embracing the “Mingo Workout Warrior” mode during the offseason. When he decided during the summer that he would start trusting his instincts and stop over-thinking things, he got off the snap quicker and began making life exceedingly difficult for Tigers offensive linemen during 2014 August practices.

The 2014 season saw Hunter perform at a steady pace. While he was still a “work in progress” as a pass rusher, he recorded 73 tackles (30 solos), leading the team while ranking tenth in the Southeastern Conference with 13 stops behind the line of scrimmage. He recorded a career-best twelve tackles vs. Auburn, marking the first time an LSU down lineman posted double-digit tackles in a game since Glenn Dorsey made eleven hits vs. Mississippi in 2006.


Hunter played in 38 games at Louisiana State, starting his final 23 appearances, as he recorded 142 tackles (52 solos) that included 4.5 sacks for minus 27 yards, 21.0 stops for losses of 79 yards and seven quarterback pressures…Returned his only fumble recovery 25 yards for a touchdown, as he caused two fumbles and deflected eight passes.
School Game-Record Results…When Hunter recorded twelve tackles vs. Auburn in 2014, it marked the most by a Tigers defensive lineman in a game since Glenn Dorsey posted eleven hits vs. Mississippi in 2006…His seven solo tackles in the Auburn contest are the most by an LSU down lineman since Marcus Spears produced eight initial stops vs. Arkansas in 2004…His twelve total tackles vs. Auburn are also the most by a Tigers down lineman since Chuck Wiley had twenty stops vs. Kentucky since 1995.

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