We are less than 50 days away from the NFL season and projections for the 2021 NFL Draft may be as paramount as ever as teams plan for their future while players opt-out of the 2020 season.
First is Aidan Hutchinson, coming in at No. 37 and the No. 4 edge rusher in the Top-50, who has appeared in similar pieces over the past few months about to the 2021 NFL Draft. Mike Renner wrote about why he likes the Wolverines’ defensive lineman.
Hutchinson holds the crown of being the only defender to give Tristan Wirfs fits last season when he racked up seven pressures against Iowa. The rising junior’s versatile body allows him to also kick inside and still produce.
Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs wound up going in the first round of this year’s draft to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Hutchinson tallied a sack and two tackles for loss in the nail-biting 10-3 defensive battle last October.
In his first full season as a starter, Hutchinson had 68 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. The former 4-star recruit had always been highly thought of in Ann Arbor and it appears that mantra could be headed to the next level.
Just two spots later at No. 39 is Hutchinson’s counterpart on the defensive edge, Kwity Paye, who was recently named as the No. 1 ‘freakiest’ player headed into the 2020 college football season by Bruce Feldman ($). Paye comes in as the No. 6 edge defender in PFF’s Top-50 players list.
PFF believes that we have yet to see the best of the Michigan senior saying, “Paye is only scratching the surface of what he could become. With no polished pass-rushing moves to speak of, he still earned a 77.8 pass-rushing grade in 2019.
If a lack of finesse has been shown by Paye, and he truly does rely only on his physical attributes, he has been quite productive. He had 6.5 sacks and 50 total tackles last year coming off the edge for the Wolverines. With another offseason of development under Don Brown and Shaun Nua, and with national pundits continually praising the Michigan defensive lineman, expect his stock to continue to rise with a productive 2020 season.
The Big Ten is rather well represented altogether as 12 of the Top-50 players come from within the conference. At the top of the Big Ten’s representatives is Ohio State’s Justin Fields who is No. 2 overall behind only Trevor Lawrence, Clemson’s quarterback. Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons and Purdue’s all-purpose offensive superstar Rondale Moore also appear in the Top-10.