As the Detroit Lions win more games, and if they deliver on expectations this season, recognition will come for more players. More specifically, Pro Bowl recognition for those who have been snubbed up to this point and young players to who take the next step.
Aidan Hutchinson had a fine rookie season last year, leading all rookies in sack and quarterback pressures while playing the second-most snaps among all defensive lineman in the league. But there's definitely other levels to reach entering his second season, with the sheer benefits of experience now.
There are some good candidates to be first-time Pro Bowlers for the Lions this year, Hutchinson naturally among them. On his list naming one potential first-time Pro Bowler for each NFC team, Kevin Patra of NFL.com went with the second-year defensive end for Detroit.
"Hutchinson is an obvious choice after a rambunctious rookie campaign. He led all rookies with 9.5 sacks, 15 QB hits and 45 QB pressures while ranking second with nine tackles for loss and tied for second with five takeaways last season. Boasting a good array of rush moves and relentless energy, Hutch is on a T.J. Watt-like trajectory."- Kevin Patra, NFL.com
Aidan Hutchinson lined up for a big, Pro Bowl-caliber season
"He had a really nice rookie year, but I think Aidan Hutchinson is going to really breakout. I'm not saying he's Nick Bosa, T.J. Watt, or those guys. But, I think he'll take a big step, I wouldn't be surprised if he has 15 or 20 sacks this year.""
If you're counting, that's now two mentions of T.J. Watt's name when talking about Hutchinson. The Steelers' star pass rusher went from seven sacks in his rookie season to 13 sacks in his second year, and if not for an injury last year he surely would have had another big season.
The Lions' single-season sack record, since sacks became an official stat in 1982, is 15, set by the ever-underrated Robert Porcher in 1999. Hutchinson is certainly coming for that this year, in what's lined up to be a full-on breakout into the elite tier of NFL pass rushers for years to come.