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2022 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Edge Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan

Aidan Hutchinson will likely be in high demand by those teams picking at the top of the first round, and with good reason: he's the complete package, notes Nick Falato

Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE

Height: 6’5
Weight: 268 lbs.
Class: Senior
School: Michigan


A former four-star recruit out of Divine Child High School near Dearborn, Michigan, Hutchinson was the first overall recruit in Michigan and the sixth-ranked strongside defensive end in the country during the 2018 recruiting cycle. 

Hutchinson’s father, Chris, was an All-American for Michigan under legendary coach Bo Schembechler. According to Pro Football Focus, Hutchinson was the highest-graded defender in the entire FBS. Hutchinson suffered a season-ending right ankle injury that eventually required surgery in 2020.

Notables

Hutchinson was wildly decorated at the University of Michigan. He won the Ted Hendricks Award (college’s top defensive end), the Lombardi Award (college player who best embodies Vince Lombardi’s values and spirit), the Lott IMPACT Trophy (college football’s impact player on defense), and he won the Chicago Tribune Silver Football (best player in the Big-10).

He also won the Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year and the Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year awards. He was a Unanimous All-American and was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy (came in second behind Alabama quarterback Bryce Young). Hutchinson will certainly be selected in the top five of the 2022 NFL Draft.

Hutchinson played a total of 1,891 defensive snaps through four years at Michigan. He had 74 pressures in 2021 - finished third in the FBS behind Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr. and San Diego State’s Cameron Thomas. Hutchinson also had 46 pressures in 2019; he finished his collegiate career with 128 total pressures.

Hutchinson had 14 sacks, setting the single-season record for Michigan, and he also added 16.5 tackles for a loss. On Chris Long’s Green Light podcast (on the Bluewire network of podcasts), Hutchinson stated that he saw the field much better in MacDonald’s system, where he was mostly in a two-point stance.

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Strengths

  • Exceptional length, very difficult for tackles to locate his chest
  • Burst, agility, lateral quickness, change of direction - all very good
  • Movements are controlled, balanced, and have purpose
  • Very explosive first three steps, quickly gets up arc
  • Good speed in pursuit from the backside
  • Plays with good leverage and can really sink his frame underneath OTs punches
  • Can effortlessly bend his frame and contort his body advantageously
    • Gets to the top of the arc smoothly with burst
    • Cornering ability looks easy for Hutchinson
    • Speed dip/rip combination is impressive (good luck to slow-footed OTs)
  • Absolutely impressive hand usage, packs a punch
  • Plays with very good overall play strength
  • Has the strength in his upper body and his lower half
  • Hands are incredibly quick
    • Quickly engages hands and transitions to counter move
  • A full complement of pass-rushing moves/counters
  • Aiming points and employment of pass-rushing moves are on target
    • Timing is sufficient, authority is dictated, and he’s quick to separate
    • Knows how to exploit the weak points of OTs (smart)
  • Is an equal threat to employ inside PR move or to win up the arc with speed/bend
    • Inside swim is nasty and very quick
  • Can convert speed to power, has requisite lower body drive to win at POA
  • Absolute technician with his hands when deconstructing blocks as pass-rusher and run-defender
    • Routinely beat Big-10 tackles inside with hands and lateral movement vs run
  • Good penetrator as a run defender with a wide tackle radius
  • Can lower his profile and use length to set a firm edge
  • A sure tackler who provides pop at the point of contact
  • Adaptive player who had success in multiple defenses
  • Ability to consistently string together the RIGHT pass-rushing moves illuminates his high processing mid-play as well
  • Can play all over the defensive front, very versatile
    • Will be effective with hand in the dirt, or in two-point stance
    • Has AA to play OLB and the strength/edge setting ability to be DE
    • Can rush inside, outside, and effectively play the run
  • Smart player who is rarely fooled by misdirection plays
  • Motor is always running hot
  • Really improved his game in 2021, a true three-down player

Weaknesses

  • Can get over aggressive and anticipate contact when pass rushing; this leaves his feet behind him and doesn’t allow him to maximize his impressive strength
  • He’s not a terrible mover in space; however, he’s not an ideal candidate to cover (but with his skills, you probably don’t want him to cover too often).
  • Was excellent at jumping the snap in college, will that translate in the NFL with more diverse cadences, or could that lead to more offsides?
  • After witnessing his 2021 season, it’s hard to hold the right ankle injury against him, but it’s medically something to monitor through the pre-draft process

Summary

Overall, Aidan Hutchinson is a unique player with dominant hand technique at the point of attack. He’s an excellent athlete with the quickness, burst, bend, and lateral movement skills in short areas to succeed in a phone booth. 

He also has solid movement skills in space for someone with his frame. His ability to employ a variety of pass-rushing/counter moves in the right situation while knowing the aiming points to exploit OTs is a trait that shows advanced technical ability and mental processing. 

His hands are quick, violent, and mostly on target. He plays with power, dictates pass rushing plays, and can sufficiently be a good run defender at the next level. He plays with his hair on fire and commanded offensive attention in college. Hutchinson had a great 2021 campaign and will turn that into being a top-5 selection in the upcoming draft.

GRADE: 7.2 (will be a top-five pick) 


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