Expected sack data points to obvious new level for Aidan Hutchinson in 2024

It feels obvious, but there are actual deeper numbers that point to a new level for Aidan Hutchinson this year.

Aidan Hutchinson has been everything the Detroit Lions envisioned he'd be when they took him second overall in the 2022 draft. If there is one small quarrel, it has been some inconsistency in his sack numbers, including a long stretch with few sacks last year.

During that dry spell with few or no sacks, Hutchinson was generating pressures on opposing quarterbacks like few if any other edge rushers in the league. Part of the issue seems to a lack of production on the edge opposite him, and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn cited the effort to make sure pressures translate to more sacks this year.

It was cherry-picked and mis-aggregated when he said it, but here's all of what Lions head coach Dan Campbell said about pressures and sacks last week.

"Sacks aren't that big of a deal as long you're getting the pressures," Campbell said on May 30. "As long as you're getting pressures, and those pressures show up and affect the quarterback negatively, you know? Now would you rather have sacks? Absolutely, I would rather have sacks. The loss of yardage, all of those things, but the pressures ... a pressure that affects the quarterback. ... We watched a couple clips this morning in front of the team. Quarterback is wanting to step up. He can't step up, the throw is high. He's flipping to his right, and he can't get his hips around. Throw a pick. These things that end up in negative plays as incomplete, as turnovers, whatever, I'll take those all day long."

PFF data clearly points to new level for Aidan Hutchinson this year

Hutchinson has twice said he feels he can do more this coming season, as he hones his game and his body. Pro Football Focus, with a fantasy football IDP angle (subscription required), took a look at expected sack data from 2023 to predict positive and negative regression candidates for 2024.

Hutchinson landed No. 1 in expected sacks from last year among edge rushers, with 15.9. Among the top-24 on the list, his negative difference compared to his actual sack total (-4.4) was a close second to Nick Bosa (-4.6).

On the top-15 "positive regression candidates" list for this year, again among edge rushers alone, Hutchinson came in fourth based on the aforementioned difference between his expected sacks and actual sacks from last year.

If Hutchinson gets more help from other Lions' edge rushers this year, his sack total could easily climb toward last year's "expected" level, say 16 sacks-or beyond. Do with it what you will, but T.J. Watt led the league last year with 19 sacks.


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