It seems like a lifetime ago that the Bengals selected Margus Hunt with the 53rd overall pick of the NFL draft, in the hopes that his freakish size and athleticism could one day translate into success on the football field.
He was only drafted in 2013, but the fact that he's produced seven tackles and 1.5 sacks in three years is troublesome. However, instead of just coasting by on his athleticism, he has been working with Pro Football Hall of Famer Kevin Greene, according to Bengals.com.
"I had a chance to lay my hands on him for three days." Greene told Hobson, "I've never seen anyone so big, so lean, so tall, so strong."
That generally seems to be the consensus on Hunt, even today despite his lack of production at the NFL level. He might not be tearing apart the NFL stat board right now, but he still has all of the potential in the world. Working with someone knowledgeable like Greene is a step in the right direction.
"It's all up to Margus," Greene said, "He's got all the gifts you really want for a pass rusher."
To be fair, Hunt didn't even play football at all until 2009, when he joined the SMU Mustangs after his first love, track & field, was discontinued at the school. He was a discus prodigy as a child and came all the way from Estonia to work with SMU's coach Dave Wollman.
Wollman kept him in town by getting him involved in football and translating a lifetime of athletic training into the very focused and violent world of football. He became particularly good at blocking kicks and held his own as a defensive end, testing off the charts at the NFL combine.
The Bengals saw this hard working 6'8, 290lb kid from Estonia and decided they liked his potential enough to take him in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft.
"I was making it too complicated for myself," Hunt told Hobson. Training in a different sport for your entire life can make the transition to a new one somewhat daunting. In Hunt's case, most of the issues are ones that can be worked on and shouldn't be particularly unfamiliar to him. "Footwork. Pad level. Strike point. Hand placement." Greene told Hobson, "If he's able to master those."
"I told him I was 6-2, 245 pounds and I was able to get 160 sacks. You're 6-8, 300 pounds, and gifted." Greene told Hobson, "You ought to be destroying people."
It's a shame that Hunt hasn't panned out for the Bengals so far despite his insane amount of athleticism. If he and Greene can really hit at the heart of his struggles, which they seem to have done in their training sessions, the team could have an absolutely dominant force on their hands. "It was exactly like he said." Hunt told Hobson, "How he set them up and how he did it. Watching my film, I was never able to (finish) that."
Going forward, the Bengals are going to need some help at defensive end. They didn't pick one up in the draft or anyone in free agency, so they're going to need to work with who they currently have on the team. Losing Wallace Gillberry to the Minnesota Vikings this offseason was a critical hit to their defensive end depth, but hopefully, Hunt found some useful insights and tips when he was working with Greene.
"I taught him some tricks of the trade on how to get pressure on the quarterback." Greene told Hobson, "Stuff I can't tell you. Secrets."