Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson is in line to go off the board early in the 2022 draft, and he may not be a reach for the Lions at No. 1 overall.
The 0-10-1 Detroit Lions are headed for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, somehow fittingly with no quarterback worthy of the pick to allow them to comfortably reset at the most important position on the field. But as mock drafts almost automatically give them Oregon edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux with the first overall pick, Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson is looking like a top-five overall pick too.
In his recent mock draft, Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports had the Lions taking Hutchinson No. 1 overall.
"How about Hutchinson at No. 1? He has an NFL body, is believed to be a freak athletically, and has had massive production at Michigan."
Hutchinson (6-foot-6, 265 pounds) is a pass rusher who could be a 4-3 defensive end or a 3-4 outside linebacker at the next level–the latter is what he’d be for the Lions in their base scheme. But it’s a distinction without much difference if he can get after the passer, and he certainly can.
Aidan Hutchinson might not be a reach for the Lions at No. 1 overall
In Michigan’s biggest game of the season Saturday against Ohio State, Hutchinson stepped up big. With three sacks of Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud, he set the Wolverines’ single-season record with 13 sacks. He also finished had seven total tackles and three tackles for loss in the game.
Hutchinson is a Plymouth, Michigan native who lived his childhood dream of being a Wolverine, so there’s a deep local angle for Lions fans to latch onto. In an otherwise not real kind scouting report earlier this month, Daniel Kelly of SI.com offered an apt-looking comp for Hutchinson based on what he saw in the Michigan defensive end’s 2020 game tape–Jared Allen.
Thibodeaux still looks like the edge rusher with the highest upside in the 2022 draft, and Detroit doesn’t have to get cute and pass on him if they maintain their hold on the No. 1 overall pick. But Hutchinson is a top-five overall pick for most, based on the premium pass rushers carry, and he’s on the fringes of the first overall pick conversation for the Lions.