Danielle Hunter’s Odds for DPOY Are Astonishingly Low

Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year trophy has been handed out to a defender in each season since 1971. 49ers standout pass rusher Nick Bosa won in 2022, following T.J. Watt in 2021 and Aaron Donald in 2020. A few Vikings managed to win the award — Keith Millard in 1989 and Alan Page in 1971 (the same season in which he won MVP). Page was the first Defensive Player of the Year.

Danielle Hunter’s Odds for DPOY Are Astonishingly Low

odds for dpoy
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

According to BetMGM, Vikings star defender Danielle Hunter comes into the season with odds of +10,000 to become the league’s next DPOY. That implies a chance to win the award of just 1% and the potential win of $1,000 after betting $10. That ranks him tied for 29th.

Hunter is the top defender of the Minnesota Vikings and will most likely be the team’s player with the best statistics. He led the franchise in sacks in 2016, 2018, 2019, and 2022. It was Everson Griffen in 2017, while Hunter missed most of 2021 and 2020 with a couple of serious injuries.

Why are sacks important? Well, the guy who leads the league in sacks is a fantastic candidate to win the award. Just like MVP turned into a QB award, DPOY turned into a pass-rush accolade.

Nick Bosa led the league in sacks in 2022 and was named DPOY. T.J. Watt led the league in sacks in 2021, and guess what, he was named DPOY. Aaron Donald ranked second in 2020. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore received the honors in 2019. In 2018, Donald recorded the most sacks and won DPOY.

Another Stunning
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

There is an easy explanation for it. The impact of defenders can’t be easily measured. A defender like Harrison Smith has not always put up elite numbers and statistics but Vikings fans knew he was special. Pass rush numbers can be measured and voters look at the sack numbers and vote for the top guy. Nobody gets close to 20 sacks by accident; that guy has to be good.

Hunter recorded 10.5 sacks in 2022 despite having a slow start and had 6 sacks in 7 games in 2021. His consecutive seasons with 14.5 sacks in 2018 and 2019 were impressive. Hunter’s numbers may explode in his second season as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Defensive coordinator Brian Flores might help him get to the quarterback. Of course, the coverage unit must be able to cover receivers longer than last season.

Something that could be a reason for low odds is the uncertainty of his future with the Vikings. Hunter is unhappy with his contract and didn’t report to the mandatory minicamp. There’s a decent chance that he won’t report to the upcoming training camp in roughly two weeks either until the matter is resolved.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

A trade to a different organization is possible, but who knows if he can put up the same numbers there. A holdout into the season is always unlikely and rarely happens but the odds likely account for that possibility. Missing key parts of back-to-back seasons in 2020 and 2021 also doesn’t help those odds rise.

Hunter will have a different running mate to hunt passers in the upcoming season. Za’Darius Smith was traded to the Cleveland Browns and he drew a lot of attention which made life easier for Hunter. More double teams could be in Hunter’s future for that reason. However, free agent addition Marcus Davenport is a fantastic pass rusher (as his pressure rates indicate), although it hasn’t quite translated to sacks. His odds are set at +25,000, even behind ex-Viking and current free-agent Yannick Ngakoue.

Hunter can prove the doubters wrong in the upcoming season but his contract matters must be resolved first.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt