5. DE Aidan Hutchinson
Afte some early kinks, Hutchinson rounded into form to become one of the best edge defenders in the NFL over the stretch run of his rookie season last year. He led all rookies in sacks and pressures, and played the second-most snaps of any defensive lineman in the entire league.
Hutchinson was everything the Lions could have hoped for as a rookie, but he is not resting on any laurels. On "Twentyman In the Huddle" with Lions.com writer Tim Twentyman recently, outside linebackers coach David Corrao talked about Hutchinson making a second-year leap.
"He's progressed to the point where you're not focusing on -- and this is where you want to be, right, you don't want to spend all day on 'Where do I line up and what do I do?' You want that to just be automatic," said Corrao. "Once you've got that experienced confidence that I know what I got to do and I know where I got to do it, now you get to spend more time on how do I do it. "
"When they're not worried about what to do, nah, that's not an issue. Now, I'm just focused. My eyes are on my key and I'm playing. I'm worried about my hands, my feet, and I'm just, 'Where's the ball? Go get the ball.' That's when you see players play fast. And, that's what they talk about the game slows down, because they start to play so much faster.""
Experience is now in Hutchinson's corner more than it was during his rookie season. If the Lions defense is going to level up noticeably this season, as it inarguably has to if they're going to reach high expectations, last year's No. 2 overall pick will be the driving force.