Aidan Hutchinson projected to be best rookie edge rusher in 2022
Aidan Hutchinson will certainly bring a much-needed boost to the Detroit Lions pass rush, but PFF has projected him to be the most productive rookie edge rusher in the league.
By any metric you could find, the Detroit Lions had one of the worst pass rushes in the NFL last season. When Aidan Hutchinson was available at No. 2 overall in the draft, it became a no-brainer to keep the Michigan native and former Michigan Wolverine home.
Hutchinson set Michigan’s single-season record with 14 sacks last season, and deeper metrics courtesy of Pro Football Focus and others liked his work in a broad sense. So he’ll step right into a prominent role for the Lions, with expectations he’ll be an instant difference maker.
There have been some early sack projections out there for Hutchinson, and double-digit sacks certainly seems possible. But what does Pro Football Focus think, in comparison to other incoming rookie edge rushers?
Aidan Hutchinson to be best rookie edge rusher? How many sacks?
Eric Eager of Pro Football Focus (premium content) projected numbers for rookie edge rushers Hutchinson, Travon Walker, Kayvon Thibodeaux and Jermaine Johnson .
"Aidan Hutchinson: 57.0 pressures, 9.4 sacks, 16.5 run stopsKayvon Thibodeaux: 52.7 pressures, 8.9 sacks, 15 run stopsTravon Walker: 43.4 pressures, 7.2 sacks, 14.5 run stopsJermaine Johnson: 45.5 pressures, 7.7 sacks, 14.75 run stops"
PFF credited Charles Harris with 52 pressures last year, which led the Lions. Eager added context to the optimistic projection for Hutchinson’s rookie season (h/t to Pride of Detroit).
"In 2021, Hutchinson placed in the 98th percentile in PFF pass-rushing grade among players who eventually played in the NFL, the 99th percentile in pass-rush grade on “true pass rushes,” the 97th percentile in pass-rush grade on pass plays without play action, the 98th percentile in overall pass-rush win rate and the 99th percentile in run-defense grade.”"
Hutchinson is not just a pin-your-ears-back and get-after-it pass rusher. He was also a top-notch run defender last year, which will be important to a Lions’ defense that was gashed in the run game at times last season.
Lions fans will surely take around 10 sacks from Hutchinson right away in 2022, to go with edge setting against the run and a general fit for the culture head coach Dan Campbell wants.
Is PFF’s projection for Hutchinson too aggressive? Or just right? Could he really be the most productive rookie edge defender in the league? Give us your thoughts in the comments.