Aidan Hutchinson has found a new home, and it’s not too far from his old one.
The Detroit Lions selected Hutchinson with the second overall pick in Thursday’s NFL Draft. The standout defensive end is the highest Michigan player to be selected since 2008, when the Miami Dolphins picked offensive tackle Jake Long first overall. Hutchinson fell to the Lions after the Jacksonville Jaguars opted to take Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker with the first overall pick.
After an ankle injury truncated his junior season, Hutchinson elected to return for his senior season, postponing his NFL aspirations in hopes of ushering a program-wide turnaround in Ann Arbor.
And Hutchinson returned with a vengeance, cementing himself as one of the premier players in all of college football. A consensus All-American and Heisman Trophy finalist, Hutchinson finished his 2021 season with a program-record 14 sacks, including three in a monumental victory against Ohio State. Hutchinson’s mere presence along the defensive line often commanded double and triple-teams, freeing up gaps for his teammates and making his true on-field impact impossible to quantify.
“If there’s a better player out there that’s draft eligible than Aidan Hutchinson, I have not seen that player,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said in December. “Where do you start, where do you go? There’s so many superlatives. He’s a football player. He’s a stalwart.”
At the NFL level, the Lions will surely be looking for similar production from Hutchinson, who is 21 years old. He fills a gaping void in a Detroit defense that notched just 30 sacks last season, tied for the 30th-lowest figure in the NFL. And if his growth this past season is any indication, Hutchinson seems poised to change that as he brings the same level of tenacity and talent to the professional ranks.