New Texans Star Defender Earns Major Praise From NFL Execs

Danielle Hunter, Texans
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a surprisingly strong 2023 campaign, the Houston Texans entered the offseason looking to upgrade its roster. The time to spend is now, as star quarterback C.J. Stroud enters Year 2 of his NFL career.

With money to burn, the front office got to work adding talent. On offense, the Texans acquired running back Joe Mixon from the Cincinnati Bengals and wide receiver Stefon Diggs from the Buffalo Bills.

Defensively, the team made a huge splash in free agency, signing Danielle Hunter. The star edge rusher re-established his place among the best pass rushers in the NFL with 16.5 sacks last season with the Minnesota Vikings.

On the back of a dominant season, Hunter finds himself on the top 10 edge rusher list ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler compiled. He took opinions from executives, scouts and coaches around the league and they voted on who the best players at every position are around the NFL.

Hunter came in at No. 7 on the edge rusher’s list. Some voters ranked him as high as five, while others didn’t rank him at all.

This was a major jump up for Hunter, who wasn’t on the rankings at all heading into 2023, as he wasn’t even an honorable mention. The skill has always been there, but injuries and a schematic change led to some underwhelming production in recent years.

“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 said. “He’s that high caliber of an athlete that he should age really well.”

The Texans are certainly banking on what the NFL official said is true. They signed Hunter to a two-year, $49 million deal earlier this offseason to help bolster their pass rush.

His presence will make life much easier for emerging edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. The Texans made a bold move during the 2023 NFL Draft, making a trade with the Arizona Cardinals to acquire the No. 3 pick to select him.

He had an impressive season, picking up 7.0 sacks with 10 tackles for loss, 22 quarterback hits and 32 combined pressures in 15 games. That was enough for him to win the Defensive Rookie of the Year award.

The Texans are going to be a dangerous team in 2024 with Hunter and Anderson rushing the passer. This is a franchise on the rise, as they are loaded with star talent and Hunter will help push them to that next level.

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