After a good finish to the 2022 season, Aidan Hutchinson took an oppportunity to laud the potential of the Detroit Lions defense.
A key aspect of the Detroit Lions going 8-2 in their last 10 games this season was the improvement of the defense. The Lions allowed just 20.2 points per game over those final 10 games, spurred by a markedly better run defense and more production from the pass rush.
Aidan Hutchinson showed notable growth as his rookie season went on, with noticeably better discipline in his pass rush lanes. He led all NFL rookies in sacks with 9.5, and he put himself in same rare air in league history with three interceptions as a defensive lineman. He finished second in AP Defensive Rookie of the Year voting.
But Hutchinson wasn’t the the only young player to emerge on the Lions’ defense this season. Fellow rookies Kerby Joseph, Malcolm Rodgriguez and James Houston were productive too, and second-year man Alim McNeill took a step forward.
Aidan Hutchinson sees bountiful upside for Detroit Lions defense
During his appearance on ”PFT Live” Friday morning from Super Bowl radio row, Hutchinson sees potential for the Lions defense to improve next season.
"I think the sky’s the limit with that group,” Hutchinson said in a separate interview with PFT. “I think whatever we set our minds to and we’re consistent about it, we can achieve. It’s just so much talent. We just gotta put our heads together, man, and grind. I think that’s the group to do it.”"
Hutchinson went on to specifically mention cornerback Jerry Jacobs, who will enter the offseason healthy after suffering a torn ACL late in his 2021 rookie season.
"He’s been great for us, but once he puts together a full season — he’s been injured a little bit — I think he’s gonna be a breakout player for the Lions,”"
On Thursday, talking to Tim Twentyman of the Lions’ website on radio row, Hutchinson did not leave out his personal potential.
"That was just a little appetizer,” “That’s how I view it. A little appetizer. That was me being a rookie and not quite knowing – especially early in the year – not quite knowing the NFL and how things go and stuff like that. You give me this whole offseason of training, I’m going to take off to a new level."
The Lions have four of the top-60 picks in April’s draft, with some focus sure to be on the defensive side of the ball. So more young talent is coming to a defense that will try to turn potential into consistency in 2023.