Michigan star and reigning Heisman finalist Aidan Hutchinson just declared for the 2022 NFL Draft. It’s no surprise given his dominant performance for the Wolverines and the fact that many experts have the edge rusher as the top pick in the annual event.
In today’s pass-first NFL, edge rushers of this ilk are valued over pretty much every position outside of quarterback. That’s been magnified in the draft recently with Nick Bosa going No. 2 overall to the San Francisco 49ers in 2019 and Chase Young being the first overall pick of the Washington Football Team a year later.
The 6-foot-6, 265-pound Hutchinson will be no different when the 2022 NFL Draft kicks off in Las Vegas this coming April. Below, we look at four ideal scenarios for the Heisman runner-up.
Houston Texans look for their next J.J. Watt
For a good four-year span from 2012-15, Watt was the best defensive player in the NFL for the Texans. He earned three Defensive Player of the Year honors, helping the team stay relevant on the broader league stage during that span.
- Aidan Hutchinson stats (2021): 62 tackles (36 solo), 16 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, two forced fumbles
Regardless of what happens at quarterback in Houston, the team will likely be forced to trade Deshaun Watson. Netting multiple first-round picks would enable general manager Nick Caserio to bite the bullet and exhaust a high pick on Hutchinson. It’s also a need with the Texans’ defense having yielded 27 points per game while accumulating all of 31 sacks in 2021.
Dan Campbell, Detroit Lions land Aidan Hutchinson
This seems to be the likeliest scenario. Right now, Detroit is slated to select No. 2 overall behind the Jacksonville Jaguars. We’re just not seeing Jacksonville general manager Trent Baalke going with an edge rusher atop the draft. Rather, the embattled front office head must find some more help for young franchise quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Perhaps, Alabama’s Evan Neal is an option.
Either way, Hutchinson makes a ton of sense for Detroit. First off, he’s a native of Plymouth, Michigan. That’s about 32 minutes outside of Detroit. Bringing in a hometown boy to star for the downtrodden franchise would excite the fan base. It’s also not like Hutchinson isn’t a fit in Detroit’s 3-4 scheme. He has an ability to play both with his hands down and off the line at outside linebacker. The Lions need all the help they can get with a mere 26 sacks during the 2021 season.
New York Jets find a way to add their version of Nick Bosa
General manager Joe Douglas and head coach Robert Saleh thought they were getting an elite-level edge rusher after the Jets signed Carl Lawson to a three-year, $45 million deal last March. Unfortunately, he suffered a torn Achilles during the preseason and missed the entire 2021 campaign. It led to major struggles for the defensive-minded Saleh on that side of the ball.
It’s a natural fit for Hutchinson in that he comes from the very same lab as Nick Bosa, who absolutely starred for Saleh in San Francisco as a rookie — en route to helping lead the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance. Both are ideal 4-3 pass rushers. With New York hoping Lawson returns to full health next season, he’d play the smaller edge-rush role next to Hutchinson, creating an elite tandem. The only issue here is that New York might have to trade up to land the former Wolverine.
Philadelphia Eagles shock the world, trade up for Aidan Hutchinson
Eagles general manager Howie Roseman is going to have three first-round picks at his disposal in the 2022 NFL Draft. There’s every reason to believe that the usually active front office head will package two of these to move up for a player of his choosing. If so, pass rush is a major need for Philadelphia.
- Philadelphia Eagles sacks (2021): 28
- Philadelphia Eagles sacks (2020): 49
- Philadelphia Eagles sacks (2019): 43
We’ve obviously seen some major regression on the part of Philadelphia’s pass rush this season. Josh Sweat leads the team with 7.5 sacks. Derek Barnett is the only other edge rusher in Philly with double-digit quarterback take downs. That needs to change. If it means moving off two first-round picks and change for Aidan Hutchinson, it’s a bullet Roseman might need to bite.