After a legendary senior season in Ann Arbor, Michigan Wolverines defensive end Aidan Hutchinson has been at either No. 1 or No. 2 in just about every mock draft since the college football season ended. Over the last week or two, most of the mocks had him going No. 1 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars, which would make him the first Wolverine selected at the top spot since Jake Long in 2008.
But now things are beginning to shift towards another defensive end — Travon Walker. The Georgia Bulldog saw his stock climb incredibly following his NFL Combine performance last month. It was a solid showing, but Hutchinson also proved his athleticism by putting up the 20th-best combine performance from a defensive end since 1987, according to Pride of Detroit’s Kent Platte.
Aidan Hutchinson is a DE prospect in the 2022 draft class. He scored an unofficial 9.86 RAS at the Combine out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 20 out of 1389 DE from 1987 to 2022. https://t.co/GaNo2tViCr #RAS via @Mathbomb pic.twitter.com/i5qj6vl0nL— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 6, 2022
Despite the misconception that Hutchinson isn’t as good of an athlete, Walker is now the favorite (-150) to be taken No. 1 overall by the Jaguars, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. Hutchinson is right behind him at +140, followed by North Carolina State offensive lineman Ikem Ekwonu (+750). Alabama offensive lineman Evan Neal (+1,400) and Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux (+2,000) round out the top five.
Walker put up just 37 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, two pass deflections and one fumble recovery for the Bulldogs in 2021. Meanwhile, Hutchinson, who placed second in the Heisman Trophy voting, compiled 62 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, three pass deflections and two forced fumbles. So not only is Hutchinson as good of an athlete as Walker, but he also has much better stats.
Of course, Walker played for a historically great defense this past season with stars all over the place, but it isn’t like Hutch played with a bunch of nobodies. If it weren’t for his great pass rushing teammate David Ojabo, Hutchinson could have easily put up 20 sacks last year — he was that dominate.
Perhaps this is a blessing in disguise. As a Michigan and Detroit Lions guy, I would love for the Lions to be able to pick Hutchinson at No. 2 overall. He is exactly the type of person and player head coach Dan Campbell is looking for and he’d have a chance to be the hometown hero. If Hutch is there, I just can’t see the Lions picking anyone else.
Where do you think Hutch lands in the 2022 NFL Draft? Let us know down in the comments!