Danielle Hunter Made Mike Zimmer’s List

Jul 27, 2015; Mankato, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer talks with Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter (99) at training camp at Minnesota State University. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The admiration from former Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer for outside linebacker Danielle Hunter remains intact.

Zimmer coached the Vikings from 2014 to 2021, guiding Minnesota to the NFL’s 10th-best record during the timeframe. In the 2015 NFL Draft, Zimmer and his old boss Rick Spielman found Hunter in Round 3 from LSU.

Danielle Hunter Made Mike Zimmer’s List

Hunter has dominated the NFC North and solidified the Vikings defensive trenches since.

Danielle Hunter Made
Oct 10, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter (99) celebrates a sack of Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff (not pictured) during the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports.

Well, 15 months removed from the NFL, Zimmer spends time over at the NFL think-tank site The 33rd Team, an analysis spot founded by Mike Tannenbaum, the general manager of the New York Jets from 2006 to 2012. Zimmer offers breakdowns of rookies around this time of year, plus general NFL takes during the regular season and playoffs.

Zimmer and former Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis put together two defenses on Sunday — one an all-time version by position and the other a current-best defense by position. Listed as a “key reserve” at EDGE rusher is Hunter.

Image Courtesy of The 3rd Team

No other Vikings made the cut, and zero players from the purple team were listed on the all-time team constructed by Zimmer and Lewis. One might’ve guessed a Carl Eller or Alan Page had enough juice as Hall of Famers, but no cigar.

Here’s the full tweet with the all-time team:

Assuming Hunter straightens out his contractual standing this offseason, he’ll enter Year No. 9 this September — if that can be believed. Hunter has very little new money funneling his way in 2023, so most Vikings fans and pundits expect an extension after the draft. Too, in the shadows, Hunter has been whispered in the trade rumor mill, although it would be strange to trade the team’s best defensive player at age 28 and with a new defensive coordinator in charge.

Dec 20, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer looks on in the second quarter against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

According toĀ KSTP’sĀ Darren Wolfson, who appeared onĀ theĀ Mackey & Judd ShowĀ last week, Hunter is a defensive centerpiece for the upcoming season, “I did hear that Brian Flores is really really pumped up to coach Danielle; that Danielle, it’s mutual, is pumped up to play under Brian Flores.”

“So, do the Vikings find a way to give him some sort of bump, extend him? I think that will play out come May and June, maybe into July,” Wolfson added.

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Nov 13, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) warms up before a game against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports.

Hunter and his pals hope to rectify a mostly bad Vikings defense in 2022. The team finished with 13 or more wins for only the third time in franchise history — and won the NFC North for the first time since 2017 — but fired up the NFL’s 30th-ranked defense per points allowed and 31st in yards allowed. Current skipper head coach Kevin O’Connell fired defensive coordinator Ed Donatell in January, and Flores accepted the job in February.

Zimmer, on the other hand, is allegedly on tap for some type of role with the Deion Sanders-led Colorado Buffaloes this fall.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.