When the Lions selected Aidan Hutchinson with the second overall pick, many fans of the team were overcome with excitement. For once, it seemed, Detroit didn’t overthink their draft pick and they chose someone that would fit their defensive scheme. Many analysts shared these sentiments, often looking at Hutch as one of the most “can’t-miss” prospects in the draft. And if his NFL debut was anything to go off, they were right. Hutchinson looked like the best player on the field against the Falcons. Flying around and making splash plays, he hit all the marks for the Defensive End position. From start to finish, his preseason series showed that Aidan Hutchinson is a name to remember for the 2022 NFL season.
His first play of the drive was against a bootleg pass. He starts by chasing down Cordarrelle Patterson, but as he realizes that QB Marcus Mariota still has the ball, he turns on the jets the other way. Hutchinson’s pursuit skills were undeniable as he held Mariota to an 8-yard gain, laying his first NFL hit at the end of the play. The second play was his best of the drive. Hutchinson lined up against Veteran Tackle Jake Matthews. As Jake Matthews tried to lay a block on him and wall Hutchinson away from RB Qadree Ollison, Hutchinson responded quickly by dodging Matthews, getting inside, and dropping Ollison for a textbook TFL. Ford Field erupted for the rookie, and it was one of the loudest crowd reactions I have ever heard from a preseason game. But he didn’t stop there. On his 4th play of the drive, he showed off the versatility, lining up outside and being doubled by Right Guard Chris Lindstrom. As Mariota rolled out to the right side of the field, Hutch turned himself around to chase down the elusive quarterback. He forced Lindstrom to make a decision; either let Hutchinson go or cause a holding penalty, Lindstrom chose the latter. Hutch showed his football intellect at the same time, bringing the Falcons back 10 yards on the Holding Penalty. The versatility was shown even more when he lined up inside against Left Guard Elijah Wilkinson. It was a typical pass play, and Hutchinson ripped straight to the inside of Wilkinson, escaping the block, and putting pressure right in Mariota’s face. Mariota made an amazing throw, but Hutchinson put in the effort to block the pass. Then, on the goal line, he lined up against TE Parker Hesse in the 9 technique. It was a dive play, with a fullback lead blocker. He ripped inside against Hesse, ate the block by FB Keith Smith, and allowed Tracy Walker to come in and clean up the running back in the backfield. Hutch isn’t afraid to eat blocks and has shown that he will take up as much space as possible, being an immovable object for the Lions up front. This plays into the argument of his versatility, as no matter where you place him on the defensive line he is a force to be reckoned with. His final noteworthy play came on a goal-line pass. Hutch was lined up against Hesse again, he ripped inside of the TE, clubbed around the Qadree Ollison, and delivered pressure right in Mariota’s face. Mariota ran outside and made the play for the touchdown, but the drive that Hutch showed was undeniable. How quickly he disposed of Hesse and Ollison is something that he will hopefully be able to display every game. The Falcons ultimately won 27-23, but Hutchinson displayed his day one prowess at the Defensive End position, earning an 88.0 grade from Pro Football Focus, one that is frankly deserved.
Besides his amazing singing and dancing, Hutch’s skills are indisputable. The way he rips through blocks pursues ball carriers and delivers big hits. It shows that the talent is already there for the young rook. Even if it’s best to temper expectations with rookie players, how can one not be hopeful after the amazing plays that Hutchinson pulled off? Hopefully, Hutch will be able to carry this momentum through the preseason and into the regular season for the Lions and become a defensive building block for the up-and-coming Detroit Lions.