The Detroit Lions’ brightest bright spot of the 2022 season might end up being a plucky rookie class, and it’s great news to have the best player in that class leading the way.
Aidan Hutchinson has passed the eye test in terms of the statistics and plays he has made on the field. As a result of that, he’s also managed to rise on a new ESPN list ranking the rookie class.
Hutchinson placed eighth, and writer Jordan Reid explained that the reason for that is due to the fact he has been a major bright spot for a maligned group on the field.
“Hutchinson has been one of the few bright spots for a defense that has struggled mightily this season, displaying tremendous effort and showcasing a knack of getting to the QB. He has made game-changing plays for Detroit, including an interception of Aaron Rodgers at the goal line on Sunday,” Reid wrote.
In terms of what happens next, Matt Bowen admitted that he thinks it would not be a shock to see Hutchinson look even more aggressive on the field over the coming months for Detroit. In fact, Bowen went so far as to predict impact more plays.
“Watch for more impact plays from Hutchinson versus the run and the pass. We know he can set an edge, with strong hand usage and physical play. And he’s showing development as a pass-rusher, too, with the ability to disrupt the pocket,” he wrote in the piece.
The Lions having a rookie pushing into the top 10 of such a ranking is significant given the usual struggles of their class. Perhaps shockingly, linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez was not on the list in spite of his strong play.
Nevertheless, Detroit’s defense will be defined in the future by what Hutchinson does and how he translates to the pro game. For right now, it sure looks like that is going to be the case.
Hutchinson Having Solid Rookie Season
Even as the opposition is paying him attention, it’s clear that Hutchinson has some breakout ability early in his career. Already, he has surged to the top of some NFL leaderboards to start the season.
So far this season, Hutchinson has raked in the pressures up front, and has been the best rookie in the league in terms of pressuring the pocket.
In addition to all that pocket pressure, Hutchinson has paid things off with 4.5 sacks and 20 tackles. Additionally, he made perhaps his biggest play in his young Lions career soaring for a game-changing interception in the red zone.
Coming into the year, many wondered if Hutchinson could contend for Rookie of the Year and other top honors. His performance so far shows why that could be the case, providing he can put up some numbers moving forward in the second half even as folks target him up front for more attention.
Hutchinson has a definite target on his back to start the season in terms of the opposition, so it will be fascinating to see if he can fight through and continue to play a starring role for the team. So far, so good as it relates to that.
Hutchinson Should Finish as a Top 2022 Rookie
It will be interesting to see the stats that Hutchinson finishes the season with this year, because he has been very solid from the start of the season until now for Detroit.
A case could be made that Hutchinson could have even more sacks and impact plays given the volume of work he’s been able to put in. That in itself is good news for the Lions moving forward the rest of the way.
It’s clear that Hutchinson is already trending to be Detroit’s most productive rookie defensive lineman since the days of Ndamukong Suh in 2010. Considering the splash Suh made in the league as soon as he came into the mix, that is great news for the Lions and their hopes of building a fearsome defense in the near future.
This ranking now, and how it could rise in the future, could only show that the Lions are ready to take the next step with one of the most solid rookies in the league on their side.