Danielle Hunter, EDGE, LSU
Ht. 6051, Wt. 252, Arm: 34 1/4”, Hand: 10 1/2”, Bench: 25
40 yd: 4.57, 10 yd.: 1.58, 3 Cone: -, Vertical: -, Broad:-
Games Watched: Miss. St., Wisconsin, at Texas A&M
When Barkevious Mingo left LSU for the NFL in the 2013 draft, the Tigers replaced him with a clone. Danielle Hunter, a four-star prospect out of Katy, stepped into Mingo’s position and filled in nearly as well.
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Hunter didn’t produce like a top-50 NFL draft pick, registering 21 tackles for loss and only 4.5 sacks in 23 starts. The team that picks him, though, will be doing so on his tremendous upside.
Speed is Hunter’s game. At times, Hunter looked like he was shot out of a cannon, and he matched his burst with quickness and agility. At the NFL Combine, only Florida’s Dante Fowler and Virginia’s Eli Harold had faster 10-yard splits among defensive linemen.
Speed-wise, Hunter played as fast as the 240 pounds LSU listed him as, but he looked to have the strength of a larger man. He showed up to the Combine 10 pounds heavier without sacrificing speed and he has the frame to add another 15 or so pounds. Teams who covet height-weight-speed prospects — and several of the successful ones do — will fall in love with Hunter.
Based on the high motor and discipline he shows on tape, football is important to Hunter. He made great strides already and is still only 20 years old (he won’t turn 21 until after Week 7 of the 2015 season). He already flashes quick, active hands and he’s only going to get better.
For every team who would want Hunter for his athleticism, there is at least one who will knock him for his lack of production. He was plenty disruptive in the three games I watched, but he is still not quite as valuable as the sum of his parts yet. Whether you like him or not, he’s probably not a Day 1 starter.
Hunter struggled against the run in particular, especially when he was asked to read and react rather than shoot a gap. He has a bad habit of leading into blocks with his shoulder, which makes it significantly easier for offensive linemen to block him. He must improve his anchor strength and stacking ability.
Too often, Hunter is the last player to move at the snap. He gets a slight pass because a lot of those snaps are ones where his assignment is to read, but it’s still an issue.
Verdict: First Rounder
Hunter is a second-round value in a vacuum, but his age and upside bump him to a first rounder. He showed enough of the traits necessary to be a disruptive edge rusher at the NFL level.
Hunter’s combine is eerily similar to Mingo’s, but his play more closely resembles a larger, less polished version of Nebraska edge rusher Randy Gregory. He’d be an interesting pick for the Cowboys at No. 27 and an ideal weakside defensive end to pair with DeMarcus Lawrence.