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NFL execs and coaches give high praise to Texans DE Danielle Hunter

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How good is new Houston Texans defensive end Danielle Hunter? Was last season’s success with the Minnesota Vikings a one-year fluke?

Based on his numbers over the past eight seasons in the NFC, it actually seems like his best years are ahead.

Hunter, who agreed to terms on a two-year, $49 million deal this offseason, currently ranks eighth among active players with 87.5 sacks. Since being drafted out of LSU in 2015, he’s finished top-five in sacks five times while averaging 13.5 tackles for loss.

Last season, Hunter regained his status as one of the NFL’s most underappreciated players with a league-leading 23.5 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks. His potential has been through the roof, but consistency has been a question mark. Perhaps that changes now in DeMeco Ryans’ system while playing opposite of reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year Will Anderson Jr.

NFL executives and personnel seem to be high on Hunter becoming a fixture in the AFC. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler recently polled over a dozen names around the league, with Hunter coming in seventh place among pass rushers.

“The thing with Danielle is he’ll continue to have 12 to 14 sacks for at least two to three
more years if he stays healthy,” a high-ranking NFL official told Fowler. “He’s that high caliber
of an athlete that he should age really well.”

Anderson, who tied J.J. Watt’s rookie sack record, didn’t make the top 10, but was listed as an honorable mention. The former No. 3 overall pick also totaled 10 tackles for loss and posted a 25.8% pass rush win rate while helping Houston secure its first division title in four years.

“Wins with power, instincts and motor, not raw athleticism,” an AFC exec told Fowler. “Really good first year for him.”

Hunter and Anderson could be the top duo in the league, but who ranks ahead of them entering training camp? Let’s take a look:

Nov 27, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett (95) warms up before the game between the Browns and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports


Oct 1, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans offensive tackle George Fant (77) blocks Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt (90) in the second quarter at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports


Dec 11, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Houston Texans running back Dameon Pierce (31) carries the ball as Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons (11) pursues during the first half at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports


SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – DECEMBER 05: Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers in action against the Seattle Seahawks during the first quarter at Lumen Field on December 05, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Oct 25, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby (98) in the first half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Allegiant Stadium. The Buccaneers defeated the Raiders 45-20. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson (97) celebrates a play against Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half of the NFC divisional round at Ford Field in Detroit on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024.

Danielle Hunter

(Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports)

Sep 8, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Josh Allen (41) rushes the passer as Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz (71) defends during the second quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Trey Hendrickson (91) tackles Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) in the fourth quarter AFC championship NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022, at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. Cincinnati Bengals defeated Kansas City Chiefs 27-24.

Cincinnati Bengals At Kansas City Chiefs Jan 30 Afc Championship 88

Albert Cesare/The Enquirer-USA TODAY NETWORK

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports)


Sep 17, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans defensive end Will Anderson Jr. (51) enter the field prior to the game against the Indianapolis Colts at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

  • Rashan Gary, Green Bay Packers
  • Khalil Mack, Los Angeles Chargers
  • Haason Reddick, New York Jets
  • Jaelan Phillips, Miami Dolphins
  • Montez Sweat, Chicago Bears
  • Will Anderson Jr., Houston Texans

Sep 17, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Joey Bosa (97) lines up before the snap during the second half against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

  • Joey Bosa, Los Angeles Chargers
  • Jonathan Greenard, Minnesota Vikings
  • Matthew Judon, New England Patriots
  • Kayvon Thibodeaux, New York Giants
  • Alex Highsmith, Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Bradley Chubb, Miami Dolphins
  • Jadeveon Clowney, Carolina Panthers
  • Travon Walker, Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Josh Sweat, Philadelphia Eagles

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