Wednesday, February 10, 2016

brian robison

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Danielle Hunter's NFL Combine
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Danielle Hunter is a freak, but not in the “having a physical oddity and appearing in a circus sideshow” way. In the NFL, where a select few human beings can run faster, hit harder, and react more quickly than the rest of the world’s population, Hunter may be the rarest of them all.

Before he was selected by the Minnesota Vikings with the 88th-pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Hunter was a starting defensive end for the LSU Tigers. A physical specimen then, he was known more for his comically large arms than his eye-popping statistics. Despite starting 23 straight games for the Tigers between 2013 and 2014, he finished his three-year career in Louisiana with just 142 tackles, 21 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks.

For a player with such gifts, the production didn’t match the physical presence. At 6’5″ and 252 pounds, Hunter generated a mere 1.5 sacks his junior year, despite playing 80 percent of the team’s defensive snaps. Entering February’s NFL Combine, scouts, analysts, and coaches knew Hunter would pass the eye test, but questions lingered on his shallow statistical output. As one former LSU coach said about Hunter before the event:

“If he walked into your living room, your eyes would pop out of your head. He looks that good on the hoof. He’s going to blow up the combine, and then ace all of the interviews and NFL teams are going to fall in love with him. He still needs someone to unlock all that talent, though.”

His performance at the Combine, paired with an impressive Pro Day and interview process, was enough to warrant the gamble from Vikings general manager Rick Spielman. The rookie defensive end appeared in 14 games last season, finishing the year with 33 tackles, six sacks, and one forced fumble. Although he played in a rotational role behind Everson Griffen and Brian Robison, Hunter made the transition from “project” to player look easy, realizing his potential in a way so few can do so early in the careers.

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[This Emmanuel Ogbah scouting report, with a Vikings slant, has been provided to Vikings Territory by Draft Season. Be sure to check back for more and also be sure to visit Draft Season to quench your NFL Draft thirst. All previously published scouting reports can be found by clicking here.]

Emmanuel Ogbah | Defensive End, Oklahoma St.

Measurements

Height – 6’4″
Weight – 269 lbs.
Age – 22

At First Glance

The AP’s Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, 28 career sacks

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

In the NFL, durability can equate to millions of dollars for any individual player, and durability can directly correlate to the win-loss ratio of any franchise. The rash of pectoral injuries really gained notice after a July injury to cornerback Josh Robinson and the Vikings have decided to part ways with strength coach Evan Marcus this offseason.

The move has been confirmed my multiple outlets, including Viking Update, and marks one of the first instances where a Mike Zimmer hire has not panned out the way he had hoped.

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The selection is the defensive end's first Pro Bowl appearance

Everson Griffen Pro Bowl
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

In Minnesota, Vikings fans have known for years that Everson Griffen would become a Pro Bowl player. He flashed the ability as a backup behind Jared Allen and shined as a full-time starter in 2014. Before his first season as the team’s premier pass rusher, Griffen signed a five-year, $42.5 million deal with the Vikings and has proven he’s worth every penny. This year, the six-year veteran recorded a team-high 10.5 sacks and earned the first Pro Bowl berth of his career, as announced on the team’s official website.

Griffen joins Adrian Peterson as one of two Vikings named to this year’s Pro Bowl roster. He replaces Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, who will miss the game after undergoing offseason groin surgery. In addition to his double-digit sacks, Griffen recorded 44 tackles (34 solo), four defended passes, 30 quarterback hits, 14 tackles for loss, and one forced fumble.

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Zimmer's blitzes could be the key for the Vikings on Sunday

Vikings Blitz Wilson
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Sifting through recent Seattle Seahawks game film, it’s difficult to find many weaknesses for the Minnesota Vikings to exploit. Russell Wilson is playing at MVP levels, especially as of late. In Seattle’s last seven games, he’s thrown 24 touchdown passes and just one interception, helping him finish the season as the first player in NFL history to record at least 4,000 passing yards, 30 passing touchdowns, and 500 rushing yards in a single season. Known more for his mobility than his ability from within the pocket, Wilson is thriving as a traditional pocket passer. This season, he’s posted a 118.6 passer rating when throwing from the pocket, which is higher than any qualifying quarterback in the past three years.

When the Vikings and Seahawks met last, Wilson hurt Mike Zimmer’s defense every which way. He scored one touchdown on the ground and threw another three, two of which were 20 or more yards down the field. That game kickstarted his stretch of All-Pro play and helped the Seahawks win six of their last seven games. But that game was also a lopsided affair, one that found the Vikings shorthanded on the defensive side of the ball. Missing three of their most important players — one at each level of the defense — the Vikings surrendered 433 yards to the Seahawks and allowed a season-high 38 points. Finally healthy and playing some of their best football, the Vikings have the chance to upset the Seahawks and win their first playoff game.

But how can they slow down Wilson and Seattle’s suddenly dangerous passing attack? It’s simple — put pressure on the quarterback and blitz.

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