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Lions' Rookie Report Card: Hutchinson, Houston, Paschal Dominate

Detroit Lions' rookie defensive linemen trio wreaks havoc against Chicago Bears' Justin Fields.

Detroit's rookie defensive linemen trio of Aidan Hutchinson, James Houston and Josh Paschal delivered a dominant performance Sunday against the Chicago Bears. For that, they each earned high marks in this week's edition of the All Lions "Rookie Report Card." 

Without further ado, here are the grades for the rest of the Lions' rookie class, after the team's Week 17 win against Chicago. 

EDGE James Houston: A 

With each passing week, it becomes increasingly perplexing how Houston started the season on the Lions' practice squad. 

The Jackson State product continued the masterful start to his NFL career Sunday. He notched three sacks and a forced fumble against Bears quarterback Justin Fields, while suiting up for a season-high 63 percent of Detroit's defensive snaps. In doing so, Houston became the fifth ever NFL player -- and the first since Von Miller in 2011 -- to record at least six sacks and one forced fumble through six career games (stat's been kept track of since 1999).

Additionally, for his efforts in the Week 17 tilt, Houston earned an 85.1 overall grade from Pro Football Focus. It was the second-highest mark among all Lions defenders for the week.

Here's to hoping he produces a sack or two of Aaron Rodgers in Detroit's regular season finale with the Packers Sunday night.

EDGE Aidan Hutchinson: A+

In Week 17, Hutchinson added another memorable performance to his dominant rookie campaign. 

The 2022 No. 2 overall pick finished the divisional matchup with a half-sack, an interception, a pass defensed and a fumble recovery. 

On the season, the Michigan product now has seven-and-a-half sacks and three interceptions, making him the first rookie with at least seven sacks and three interceptions in a single season since 1982.

He's also the only player in the NFL this season with five-or-more sacks and three interceptions.

Specifically, for his performance Sunday, Hutchinson earned a PFF grade of 90.7, the highest mark among all Detroit players for the week. 

Additionally, since Week 11, the standout pass rusher has recorded the third-highest PFF grade among all EDGE defenders (89.7).

He and the aforementioned Houston have formed a dynamic pass-rushing duo for the upstart Lions. And, the first-year pros, in fact, are the first pair of rookie teammates each with seven-or-more sacks since 1982.

It's the latest feat in a long line of accomplishments for the rookie duo this season.

EDGE Josh Paschal: A 

Paschal recorded his best game as a pro in Sunday's contest. 

He totaled the first two sacks of his NFL career, plus also produced a career-best four combined tackles, including two tackles for loss.

It was a positive development from the Kentucky product, who had four tackles the previous three weeks combined.

In the Week 17 matchup, Paschal and his rookie defensive linemen counterparts, Houston and Hutchinson, collectively posted 11 tackles, five-and-a-half sacks, four tackles for loss, five quarterback hits, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

It was a dominant performance from the trio, going into Detroit's pivotal Week 18 tilt in Green Bay. 

WR Jameson Williams: C 

Detroit signal-caller Jared Goff and Williams still have a ways to go in getting their chemistry down.

For the third consecutive week, the rookie wideout failed to garner a single catch. 

Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson did actively try to get him the ball, though. Williams ended up being the recipient of three targets from Goff. 

Additionally, although Williams didn't come up with a single reception in the Week 17 tilt, he did impressively gain 40 yards on an end-around, during which he showed off his game-changing speed.

It was certainly an impact play from Williams. However, the 2022 No. 12 overall selection needs to make his presence known in the passing game in order to earn higher than a "C" grade. 

TE James Mitchell: B-

For the third straight week, the Virginia Tech product ended up with a catch. 

Goff has done a solid job of getting Detroit's tight ends involved in the passing game this season, including Mitchell in recent weeks. 

Sure, fellow tight ends Brock Wright and Shane Zylstra have consistently made a bigger impact than Mitchell. However, it's still a positive sign that Goff continues to make a concerted effort to look Mitchell's way.  

For the rookie's efforts in Week 17, he ends up with a "B-" grade. 

LB Malcolm Rodriguez: C 

Rodriguez didn't deliver a standout performance on Sunday against Justin Fields & Co. However, he still did a better job than he did a week ago against the Panthers. 

The Oklahoma State product ended up with at least four total tackles for the second straight week, and did an adequate job in stopping the run game of Chicago. 

For that, I'll give him a "C" for his efforts in Week 17. 

S Kerby Joseph: C-

Joseph has seen his production decline the last few weeks. And, it could be a sign of the fact that the Illinois product has hit the proverbial rookie wall.

On Sunday, he did record his first pass defensed since Week 11 against the Giants. However, he also earned just a 47.9 overall grade from PFF, the fourth-lowest mark among all Lions defenders for the week. 

Here's to hoping he gets back on the right track in Detroit's regular season finale with the Packers.