With the regular season opener against Philadelphia on the horizon, one of the most anticipated debuts, without a doubt, is Aidan Hutchinson.
The mile-high expectations of him, as the 2nd overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, cannot be denied. His limited pre-season action has given hope to this newly schemed Lions defense.
Hutchinson has gained the trust of his coaches, teammates and upper management. The most common parallels spoken about the U of M product, is his maturity as a rookie.
“On and off the field, he’s just a great teammate, great individual,” said Lions defensive end Charles Harris. “He’s not a rookie, he’s really not…his attention to detail is very helpful, not just for myself, but for the team, for the D-Line to have a guy like that within our arsenal.”
Harris also added that people would think he’s been in the league the same amount of time as himself. With Hutchinson standing at 6’7” and 264lbs Harris’ point makes sense. But he’s referring to the mental game which, is just as important.
Hearing praise from teammates (especially those who play the same position) can be misleading at times. But, when you hear it from all three levels within the origination, it’s nothing but the truth.
In the final press conference of the pre-season, Lions general manager Brad Holmes and assistant general manager Ray Agnew Jr. both elevated the perception of the 22-year-old.
“Him having the immediate impact that he’s had so far, again he hadn’t played an regular season NFL game yet, but since he stepped out there on the grass, you know, he made it known, pretty quickly, that he was about business…,” said Holmes.
In the same press conference Holmes proceeded to pass the question, about Hutchinson, over to Agnew. His response was nothing but smiles.
“I love the kid, the kid’s relentless man, effort and a much better athlete than you thought he was in the draft process,” said Agnew. “The things he can do rushing the passer, inside, off the edge, using his hands, very creative as a rusher…I’ll just say this, we got the right one.”
So far Hutchinson’s most notable performance was his rendition of “Billie Jean” on HBO’s Hard Knocks. But even something as simple as a rookie paying his dues showed the world and his coaches his character.
“The way he accepted it and the way he went up there and performed, and man, you just saw the team (rally, in hand motions) around that player,” said Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn. “He has his personality about himself now that you don’t seem from most rookies, which is a good thing…”
For most paying close attention to the Lions 2022 season thus far, the praise isn’t a surprise. But as the finger on the trigger begins to pull, the anticipation of Hutchinson’s first regular season game multiplies.
Noah Wulbrecht – Woodward Sports
Photo Credit: Detroit Free Press