The Vikings are an increasingly popular pick to make some noise in 2021 thanks in large part due to an improved defense. One of the biggest pieces on that side of the ball is a familiar one: Danielle Hunter. The All-Pro pass rusher missed all of 2020 with a neck injury but is slated to return as a starting pass rusher, this time alongside big men Dalvin Tomlinson, Michael Pierce, Sheldon Richardson and returning partner Everson Griffen. Not only that, but he's on track to post career numbers, if not challenge the NFL's single-season sack record.
Or at least that's according to Jared Allen, the retired former Vikings star and longtime sack artist. Allen, 39, last seen with the Panthers in 2015, joined Bryant McFadden on Wednesday's episode of "All Things Covered," the CBS Sports podcast co-hosted by current Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson. And he had high praise for Hunter ahead of the 2021 campaign.
"He reminds me of Julius Peppers when Julius came in," Allen said, comparing Hunter to the nine-time Pro Bowler. "He can do anything. He knows how to use his body. He knows how to use his length. He knows how to use his strength. He knows how to set people up ... He's special. He's one of those guys, him and Myles Garrett are both in that category."
As for 2021 expectations, Allen foresees more of the same from Hunter, who logged 14.5 sacks in back-to-back seasons before missing 2020. In fact, he foresees even more than that.
"The benchmark is 10 (sacks), right?" Allen said. "If you're worth your salt, you gotta have at least 10. Patrick Peterson being there just probably gave him an extra three sacks ... I wouldn't be shocked if he's a 20-sack guy at some point, as long as he stays healthy. If I'm his coach, I'm expecting 15 from him."
In addition to forecasting the future, Allen also reminisced on the past in his one-on-one with McFadden, touching on his early run with the Chiefs, his path to a potential Hall of Fame nomination and Brett Favre's big move to Minnesota back in 2009.
"Man, it was insane," he said of the latter. "I tell people, this is how I knew he was head and shoulders above all us, because when he came into the parking lot, I mean, the entire team -- there's probably 25-30 of us -- faces pressed up against the glass, and I looked down, there's me, Kevin (Williams), Pat (Williams), Antoine Winfield, (Chad) Greenway, I mean, you had All-Pros with their faces pressed up against the glass just to catch a glimpse of this guy coming into your locker room."
"He brought out greatness in others," Allen said of Favre. "You say, 'I don't wanna be the guy to let this guy down.' Had we gone on and went to the Super Bowl, that team right there could've arguably been top-10 teams in the NFL ... I think that taught me really what it was to be on (an) upper-echelon team."
It's time for the Vikings to make their move in the NFC North. Can Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson get the job done? Download the CBS Sports app to get the latest headlines from our team of NFL experts. If you've already downloaded the CBS Sports app, favorite the Vikings right now to get all the top headlines out of Minnesota.