Aidan Hutchinson took the college football world by storm this season. He was the best player on a Michigan team that started the year unranked yet became Big Ten champions and made their way to the College Football Playoff. With 14 sacks on the season to his name, the 6’6″ 265 lb. defensive end was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and became a Heisman Trophy finalist. Hutchinson rocketed up draft boards and is now a potential top-five selection in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Strengths: Hutchinson possesses great size, with such a thick, muscular build. His initial burst off the line of scrimmage is good, and he shows the ability to consistently convert speed to power. Hutchinson regularly gains inside hand placement against his blocker, getting into his chest and controlling him. Given his elite power, he has a very effective bull rush to drive the offensive lineman back, while also showing the ability to disengage after a couple of yards to take down the quarterback. Hutchinson has a great arsenal of varied, highly skillful pass-rush moves that he constantly uses to get past his blocker. He can truly drive through the offensive lineman with power or win by getting around his blocker with precise handwork. Hutchinson’s best trait might be his effort. He is absolutely relentless, tiring out the offensive line by giving maximum effort throughout every play. He makes many plays late in the rep because of his violent, aggressive, relentless style of play. Hutchinson reads his blocker really well, adapting in the middle of the play to get the better of him, such as when he instinctively bounces to his blocker’s inside shoulder to beat him. Hutchinson is elite against the run. With his sky-high football IQ, he shows tremendous read-and-react ability. His awareness to locate the running back in the hole is top-notch. His great strength and refined handwork allow him to stack and shed consistently. Hutchinson also shows athleticism and effort to track down the ball carrier in pursuit. Overall, he is quite agile and comfortable in space. He is composed as well, not allowing himself to get beat by elusive ball carriers. Hutchinson improved tremendously from 2020 to 2021 and performed at an elite level throughout the latter season, consistently getting the better of future starting NFL offensive linemen. His decision to return for the 2021 season despite being considered a potential top 50 prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft was a wise one and demonstrated his commitment to improving himself and to helping his team.
Weaknesses: While Hutchinson is a really good athlete, he falls short in this area of most pass-rushers we have seen get drafted in the top five. His burst and bend around the edge are good but not great. His flexibility isn’t elite either, which slightly affects his ability to finish. There are times when Hutchinson stands up too tall while pass-rushing, making him lose leverage. His counters when his first move is neutralized are also a little inconsistent right now. Hutchinson gets pushed too far up the pass rush arc at times.
Bottom Line: Hutchinson was absolutely dominant in 2021, and presents himself as an elite NFL Draft prospect. His size, power, and hand technique make him an extremely disruptive force as a pass rusher, and allow him to greatly excel against the run as well. Hutchinson’s motor always runs hot, which speaks to his top-level football character. While possessing good athleticism, he might not have the elite burst and bend of pass rushers that are typically selected within the first five picks, but Hutchinson has shown that he is an elite blue-chip prospect who will go on to dominate at a Pro-Bowl level in the NFL nonetheless.
Grade: 1.2 (indicative of an early first-round grade)
- Cover Image: https://www.maizenbrew.com/football/2021/3/2/22309710/michigan-football-aidan-hutchinson-calls-michigans-staff-the-smartest-hes-been-around