The Detroit Lions Michigan defender Aidan Hutchinson picked with the second overall selection. distance Jacksonville Jaguars Choosing Georgia defender Travon Walker, the Lions were supposed to choose between Hutchinson and Oregon defender Kayvon Tebodeau. Despite rumors of Thibodeaux late in the process, Hutchinson was considered the best in this year’s draft class for most of the draft season.
We know the valuable character of the Lions, and it’s possible that they fell in love with the person Hutchinson, who is described as a soccer lover and a full-blown player on the field. But that shouldn’t overshadow all of the actual talent Hutchinson will bring to Detroit on Sunday.
Hutchinson was the top passer in college football in 2021, producing the highest PFF score of any defender (94.5) and breaking the Michigan record with fourteen sacks. But part of Hutchinson’s true appeal is the balance he brings to his game. Despite his shorter-than-average arm length, Hutchinson converts his super speed into power when holding the edge and uses his slick hand techniques to scrape off blocks. He said exactly that in our interview with Hutchinson two months ago:
“I think I have a rare combination of speed and strength that a lot of guys out of the draft don’t produce,” Hutchinson said. “A lot of people are one-trick ponies that can only do one thing. I think I would be very versatile in the fact that I can use speed, I can use strength, and I can use a combination of both.”
In Detroit, Hutchinson would slip and become an immediate three-pointer for them. This gives Lions time to allow Romeo Okwara to recover from his Achilles injury, if he is not prepared. If Okwara is ready, then suddenly the Lions have a massive passing rush, Okwara had 10.0 sacks last season in full health, Charles Harris produced 7.5 sacks last season, and Hutchinson should slide in and have an immediate impact.
Many from this choice will wonder if they passed Kayvon Thibodeaux because of his personality, which is a fair question to ask. The Lions have done a lot of extra homework on Thibodeaux, and head coach Dan Campbell has admitted sometimes when they do thorough work like this, that they look forward to solving some unanswered questions.
“You just want to make sure that any questions you have, and that you’ll answer them,” Campbell said. “That’s the best way to say it. Some guys, you can get these questions a lot sooner. Some guys, those questions were answered a couple of months ago. You know? Others go all the way.”
But, again, the focus on character—though important to this discipline—takes away from the pure talent that Hutchinson brings to the table. In my opinion, this was a quick pick, but Lions ended up getting a fierce player who can do a lot of things on the field, and has to be absolutely ready on day one. It’s hard to get angry about that.