Could Aidan Hutchinson be the top pick in the 2022 NFL Draft?

Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson.
Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson. /

Michigan defender Aidan Hutchinson had a remarkable season and is a legitimate Heisman candidate. Could he be the top pick in the 2022 NFL Draft? 

It isn’t often that a defensive player becomes a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate. It’s even rarer when that player missed nearly his entire 2020 season with injuries. However, Aidan Hutchinson is a different type of animal — a Wolverine, to be exact.

The Michigan product has flashed greatness since joining one of the Big Ten’s most respected programs in 2018. After playing limitedly as a freshman behind an uber-talented defensive line that included some high NFL draft picks, Hutchinson broke out with a strong season as a true sophomore in 2019 — earning 10 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and 6 pass defenses, via Sports Reference.

Sadly, Hutchinson’s promising collegiate career was set back after suffering a fractured leg early in 2020. As a result, the promising pass rusher played in just two contests before calling it a season.

Remarkably, Hutchinson was able to come back stronger than ever this year. as NFL Draft analysts debated where his draft stock would fall, Hutchinson has exceeded all expectations. In 12 games this season, the talented defensive end earned 54 tackles, 14.5 tackles for a loss, and 12.0 sacks to go with 2 forced fumbles.

With his surge of dominance, Hutchinson has been trending as a potential candidate for the Heisman. Though it’s hard to believe that this would go to a defensive player, the fact that he’s even in the discussion shows just how good he is.

Could Hutchinson be the top pick in the 2022 NFL Draft?

Aidan Hutchinson has been so dominant, in fact, that he is starting to creep into the conversation as a potential number one overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft next April. This is not something that anyone envisioned happening prior to the start of the 2021 college football season, but this can’t be disregarded.

Early in the year, Oregon edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux was widely considered the consensus top player set to enter the NFL Draft, but now there’s a discussion to be had. While Thibodeaux has had a more productive college career in fewer seasons, he hasn’t been able to stay healthy in each of the past two seasons.

As of now, it appears that the Detroit Lions will end up with the top pick in the 2022 NFL Draft as they remain winless entering Week 13. While Detroit could use a number of positions (including quarterback), taking a signal-caller with the number one overall pick might be a bit rich for their blood.

Thibodeaux has been frequently linked to the Lions, but if they are weighing the most recent sample of play, Hutchinson has been even better.

Aidan Hutchinson still has one more game to play this season, but it will be interesting to see where he falls in the NFL Draft next year. At this point, it’s hard to rule him out as a candidate for the top overall pick.