Daniel Hunter and Jadarius Smith
In March, the Minnesota Vikings signed free agent Pass Rasha J’Darius Smith. The former Green Bay Packers outside the linebacker came to Minnesota with the opportunity to chase Aaron Rogers for the first time in his career. He can do it unlike Daniel Hunter.
Just how good can that tandem be?
Za’Darius Smith was originally selected in the fourth round in 2015 by the Baltimore Ravens. He has not played more than eight games in a single season with Baltimore but has added two Pro Bowl appearances to his biography in just three seasons with the Green Bay Packers.
At the time of joining Green Bay, Smith had 18.5 sacks for his achievements in 58 games of his career. In his first two seasons with the Packers, in 32 games where he started, Smith collected 26 sacks. Smith is well known to Vikings fans because he has been an influential force in the department for some time.
Smith was probably unavailable from Green Bay because he missed virtually the entire 2021 season. Apparently satisfying the Vikings with his treatment, it is to be hoped that Smith, now 29, will regain his pro bowling form just one season ago.
Not like the guy he’s joining. Daniel Hunter has long been one of the most talented pass racers in the National Football League. Its biggest shortcoming has been availability. Hunter was a pro bowling genius in 2018 and 2019 but did not play at all in 2020 and was then available for only seven games last season.
In his first five seasons in the league, Hunter has played in 78 of 80 possible games. He started in 49 of them and collected 54.5 sacks. Last season, in seven games, Hunter was able to make six sacks, but that cost the Vikings in defense due to his unavailability.
Obviously, injuries can be hard to project year after year and bodies can get worse over time, but it’s hard not to dream about what could happen. Hunter has moved a few years from 14.5 sacks, while Smith has picked up 13.5 in his best time. This will make it one of the better tandem positions throughout the league and will help initiate a scheme change on the defensive side of things.
The Vikings defense has frustrated them in recent seasons and failed to keep offense within striking distance. While there’s still plenty of reason to question the cornerback’s position, a quick move to the quarterback will make their job easier.
Let’s hope for health and sit down to enjoy the show.