Position: Defensive End
College: Southern Methodist University
Hometown: Karksi-Nula, Estonia
Experience: 2 years
Margus Hunt is arguably one of the most intriguing talents in the NFL. Despite his old (in NFL terms) age for a player entering his second year, the 27-year-old Hunt is relatively new to the sport and has very little football mileage under his belt.
This is both a positive and a negative, both for obvious reasons - despite being old for a player entering his second NFL season he has not experienced the long-term physical punishment of a typical, similarly aged NFL player.
On the other hand, this lack of experience means he has not been able to polish his skills as an American football player. Hunt won the gold medal in the 2006 World Junior Championships for both the discus and shot put. This raw athleticism led him to SMU's track program, which folded just as he arrived at the school.
He was quickly recruited by the SMU football team and succeeded despite virtually no football training, specifically excelling in blocking an extraordinary amount of kicks.
The big question is can he become a legitimate replacement for Michael Johnson this year or at least a significant contributor to the 2014 Bengals defense. He has all the physical tools necessary to excel in the NFL, and given his length, athleticism and innate ability to deflect passes, he should not be ignored in a pass-dominant league.
Realistically, Hunt will not be a starter for the Bengals defense unless he shows drastic improvement in his understanding of the game, given Wallace Gilbbery's and Carlos Dunlap's presence on the roster. However, Hunt should be able to become consistent part of the Bengals defensive line rotation. With his physical traits he should begin to wreak havoc on opposing defenses sooner rather than later, even if it just is in strictly passing situations.
Towards the end of last season, Hunt began to show his raw ability by manhandling defenders, but still lacked the necessary tenacity to be an every down player, showing a tendency to give up early on plays, despite the fact his immense size allows him to impact plays. He is possibly the biggest wildcard on the Bengals roster, possessing Pro Bowl physical traits yet a concerning lack of football experience.
Regardless of whether or not he becomes a star this season, Hunt should be a solid contributor to the defensive line's rotation simply because he possesses physical traits that are almost out of this world.