The proverbial “rookie wall” can sometimes come right now for first year NFL players, but Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson is experiencing no such thing.
The college football season ends in earnest in late-November, with bowl games possibly to follow weeks or up to month or better later if your team made one. So for some NFL rookies, this stage of the season brings the dreaded “rookie wall.”
Don’t tell that to Lions rookie defensive end Aidan Hutchinson.
Hutchinson, the No. 2 overall pick in April’s draft, has played in all 15 games this season (now 16 with Sunday’s game against the Bears going). He has not played less than 52 snaps in a game heading into Sunday, with a snap share of 85 percent or greater all but three times.
Among Lions’ defensive players, as noted by Tim Twentyman of the team website, only linebacker Alex Anzalone (982 snaps) has played more than Hutchinson’s 872 snaps entering Sunday’s game. That’s also the third-most snaps among all defensive ends in the league.
No rookie wall for Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson
Hutchinson leads all NFL rookies with seven sacks this season, as he also has 44 total tackles, seven tackles for loss, two interceptions and a fumble recovery.
Lions head coach Dan Campbell cited an exampale for last year’s rookie clas when talking about Hutchinson this year.
"There’s a lot of similarities with him and for example a guy like Saint (Amon-Ra St. Brown) last year,” Campbell said. “Very mature, understood coming in how to take care of his body, training, working through things and constantly working your craft.“He has taken a load and I don’t care what player you are you’re not as fresh as you were Game 1 of the season….I mean, he’s done a really good job for us, he’s been productive and that’s with everything, the run, the pass, and he still gives us all-out effort."
Via SI.com, Hutchinson himself talked about his transition and adjustment to the NFL from college.
"I think if there’s anything, it’s more mental than physical. Just because, you know, practice isn’t too grueling compared to college,” said Hutchinson this week. “But, yeah, I think I’m pretty good right now. I could play a few more games. I’m hoping, obviously, that we make the playoffs, because I still got a lot of juice left to give.”"
Hutchinson has pretty much been as advertised this season, and he’s blown through the rookie wall–if he even ever encountered it.