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What Aidan Hutchinson brings to the Detroit Lions

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Hutchinson is a consensus top five talent no matter where you look.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

This scouting report was part of our pre-draft series on Michigan prospects.

Aidan Hutchinson had one of the best seasons in the history of Michigan football in 2021 with 62 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, 14 sacks (program record) and a runner-up finish for the Heisman Trophy.

The senior defensive end slayed the dragon of Ohio State and helped secure Michigan’s first Big Ten Championship since 2004. Hutchinson left his mark in Ann Arbor and now (with scouts and general managers drooling) he turns his attention to the NFL.

Measurables

At 6-foot-6, 265 pounds, Hutchinson possesses the prototypical size and length for the NFL. Entering the 2021 season, he was ranked No. 2 on Bruce Feldman’s annual freak list. Feldman had this to say about Hutchinson in comparison to 2020’s No. 1 freak — and former Michigan Wolverine — Kwity Paye:

Strengths

  • Hutchinson possesses a high football I.Q. and instinctual style of play. He can instantly diagnose between runs/passes and is consistently assignment-sound. Hutchinson’s aggression is only governed by his discipline and complete understanding of his defensive responsibilities on every play.
  • With NFL-refined technique and superb hand fighting abilities, Hutchinson is able to create separation in a myriad of ways when battling offensive linemen.
  • Hutchinson has a number of pass rushing moves that combine speed and power with his elite technique. It is hard to find collegiate players with as many pass rushing moves as Hutchinson, and his inside counter pass rush move will be the meal ticket to all of his NFL success.
  • Hutchinson’s elite lateral quickness keeps offensive linemen off balance and unable to predict his pass rushing strategy. Moreover, this lateral quickness allows him to fill gaps and seal the edge when he has outside contain responsibilities.
  • When the lights were the brightest, Hutchinson performed the best. Against potential first round NFL draft picks (Jaxson Kirkland of Washington and Nicholas Petite-Frere of Ohio State), Hutchinson dominated both with highlight-level plays and prolific sack production.
  • It is nearly impossible to find a play when Hutchinson is giving anything less than 100%. He is a relentless, high-motor player that never stops for four quarters.

Weaknesses

  • Hutchinson has displayed limited hip flexibility that can create bend issues for him when coming around the edge. Furthermore, after Hutchinson was converted to a stand-up pass rusher in 2021, at times he would get caught too vertically and lose leverage to inferior offensive linemen.
  • While a freak athlete, Hutchinson is limited and does not look fluid in pass coverage situations. He could struggle when asked to help with NFL skill players in space.
  • Hutchinson’s elite first step could take to adjust to the NFL. Collegiate snap counts are far simpler than the one’s used in the NFL and it will take Hutchinson time to adjust.

NFL Comparison: Nick and Joey Bosa

From a size and production standpoint, Hutchinson compares very favorably to the Bosa brothers in every aspect — minus the superior college he attended. Joey was selected No. 3 overall in 2016 and Nick was selected No. 2 overall in 2019.

Projection: Top 5.

Hutchinson is one of the best three overall players in the 2022 NFL Draft class. Depending on team needs and evaluations, Hutchinson could be selected as high as No. 1 overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars (fingers crossed for No. 2 and the Detroit Lions) and will not fall beyond the New York Giants at pick No. 5.

In the NFL, Hutchinson will be an every-down defensive end and primary pass rusher that can fit into any scheme. Defenses with NASCAR defensive line packages could deploy Hutchinson from any position along the line of scrimmage to create havoc and maximize his wide ranging abilities.

In the locker room, Hutchinson is a culture changer whose leadership impact will be felt from the time he arrives.