Name: Danielle Hunter (pronounced Duh-Neal)
School: LSU (JR)
Weight: 240 Lbs.
I am a sucker for football players who are big, strong, and fast and Danielle Hunter checks off all three boxes. Even better though is that Hunter has room on his frame to add weight and muscle without losing athleticism. He has impressive arm length and uses his arms to his advantage, knocking down several balls over his career. Even at his height, Hunter has nice balance and the ability to dip his shoulder under the opposing lineman to get after the QB when rushing and avoid cut blocks when defending the run. He shows good strength to set the edge on run plays and has strong hands, which he uses to shed off linemen. He also gets after the QB both inside and out with a nice variety of pass rush moves and has an great inside swim move. He has good lateral agility when setting the edge on run plays, which forces the run back inside on several occasions. Hunter also shows good play recognition and awareness, and rarely gets out of position on play fakes and trick plays.
There are a just a few aspects of Hunter’s game that need work. My main concern is his get off at the snap. For some reason he is consistently a half step slower than everyone else when the ball is snapped and seems to lack burst in his first step. Another concern is that he plays high at times, which does not show up all the time on tape but is something he will want to work on. Finally, he hasn’t had a ton of playing experience until this year so he is a bit raw.
Hunter has a lot to offer and bring to the team. He has a rare combination of size, length, speed, and athleticism. He is a bit raw from a physical standpoint, but has the frame to grow and has only scratched the surface of his potential. He has a nice combination of speed and power, which will translate well to the NFL. He may not be an elite pass rusher, but the potential is there if he can improve his first step. What sticks out for me is that he is not one dimensional. He is very good against the pass and the run, which the Patriots typically look for. He reminds me of Chandler Jones a bit coming out of college both physically (albeit lighter) and in his playing style. I would give Hunter a solid first round grade and I think he is a real possibility for the Patriots come draft time.