2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Aidan Hutchinson
By Charlie Campbell
Summary: Coming out of high school, Hutchinson was the top-rated prospect in the state of Michigan and a four-star recruit who was ranked No. 193 nationally by ESPN. Those ratings were far off, as Hutchinson became a devastating defender as an underclassman for Michigan. He was a backup behind Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich as a freshman in 2018, but Hutchinson earned a starting spot after they departed for the 2019 NFL Draft and Michigan didn't miss a beat. In fact, Hutchinson was probably more consistent as a sophomore than Gary and Winovich were in their final seasons. The first-season starter recorded 68 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 10.5 tackles for a loss, six passes batted and two forced fumbles in 2019.
One of the highlights of Hutchinson's sophomore season was getting the better of Iowa right tackle Tristan Wirfs, who a year later was the starting right tackle for the Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Hutchinson closed out that season with an impressive tape against Alabama right tackle Jedrick Wills, who was a top-10 pick and solid rookie a few months later.
Hutchinson was excellent to open 2020, collecting 13 tackles and a pass batted before going down with an ankle fracture that required surgery. Coming off the injury, Hutchinson decided to return to Michigan for the 2021 season.
Hutchinson was phenomenal in 2021, leading one of the best defenses in the nation and pushing Michigan to a Big Ten championship. In his final season with the Wolverines, Hutchinson totaled 62 tackles, 14 sacks, three passes batted, a fumble recovered and two forced fumble - another one was mistakenly given to a teammate.
Hutchinson is a beast of a pass rusher. Off-the-ball, he has solid quickness to fire out of his stance to get upfield, but what makes him really special is his ability to get off blocks. Hutchinson has excellent hands and upper body strength to get offensive linemen's hands off of him and push them away to get free of blockers. Once Hutchinson is free, he shows a burst to close, and his big frame make him an imposing figure who rattles quarterbacks. Hutchinson's length keeps blockers from getting into his chest, and he has quick feet to cut to the inside or outside. Hutchinson brings a nice rush plan to his game and sets up tackles well. He also has good vision, intelligence, and recognition skills, which all led to him batting down a lot of passes or redirecting to chase a scrambling quarterback. Even though Hutchinson did produce big sack totals prior to his senior year in college, it would not surprise if he consistently puts up good sack totals during his NFL career.
In the ground game, Hutchinson is sufficient. He wants to win with suddenness and athletic ability to knife through with moving and slanting. As a run defender, he can find the ball and use his quickness and athletic ability to make plays. He can struggle when runs come downhill straight at him, however, and that is the major area for improvement for Hutchinson in the NFL, especially considering pro offensive tackles are bigger, stronger, and more physical than what he saw in college.
Here is what a director of player personnel had to say about Hutchinson, "He's a good athlete with speed. He has a pretty good get-off and is a special pass rusher. I'm concerned with strength. He doesn't want that smoke as a run defender. He wants to win with suddenness and athletic ability as a run defender. Moving and slanting. He has issues holding up at the point of attack. He's sufficient versus the run because he can find it and can win with quickness and his athletic ability, but when they run right at him - it's alarming. He reminds me of a more athletic Maxx Crosby."
As a pro, Hutchinson could fit as a base end in a 4-3 or play outside linebacker in a 3-4. He looks like a future top-10 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Player Comparison: Maxx Crosby. As that director said above, Hutchinson has a similar style of play to Crosby. Hutchinson could be a rich-man's Crosby considering Hutchinson has more physical talent. Crosby was one of the best defensive ends in the NFL in 2021, so that is high praise as a comparison for Hutchinson even though Crosby was not a high first-round pick himself.
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