At the end of the 2021 season, the Detroit Lions just finished their season with a record of 3-13-1 in the first year of the Holmes/Campbell era. Matthew Stafford had been traded away and was about to win a Super Bowl with the Rams, Kenny Golladay left in free agency, and the Lions roster was depleted and almost completely devoid of true talent. Sure the team was just figuring out what Amon Ra St. Brown could be and had the Oline of the future, but the defense was uninspired and unmotivated going into the 2022 offseason. They needed a leader that could man the front seven of the defense. One that could bring some personality to the team and give someone that could be the city could look to as the face of that defense. Enter: Aidan Hutchinson.
Aidan Hutchinson grew up in Michigan and even though the Lions were his hometown team, he was more of a fan of the Patriots and could you blame him? Tom Brady had come out of the University of Michigan and was blossoming into the best quarterback in the league, meanwhile the Lions were in a downward spiral following the retirement of Barry Sanders. Hutchinson still held on to his hometown roots, with him playing college ball at U of M, where he dominated. He was a very talented player and an extremely athletic edge player, and was as close to a lock to go first overall as you could get. But the Lions had fallen to the second pick after a late season string of wins, and the Jaguars were in a perfect position to draft Hutchinson. Then the combine happened.
Travon Walker had been slowly climbing draft boards for a while, with notes to his physical upside. He’s got very long arms, is very fast, and can be extremely explosive off the line, and was the perfect fit for the Jaguars ideologies. They had a track record of drafting for physical upside, and after the combine that Walker had, the organization was put into conflict. Do they go with the more pro ready player with an already high upside in Aidan Hutchinson, or the Athletic freak in Travon Walker in hopes that they can develop him into something great. They went with Walker, and the hometown kid in Hutchinson would not make it past the second pick.
The results speak for themself, as Hutchinson has contributed 14 sacks and 4 interceptions to go along with numerous pressures in his short tenure thus far. He’s been a defensive leader, and a personality on this team that the city of Detroit wants to see week in and week out. He provided a much needed spark to the defense in its time of uncertainty and has been a major piece that makes this team work. It’s likely no exaggeration to say that he will become a top player in this league and be invaluable to this team going forth.