Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson could be as good as the top pass-rushers to enter the NFL in recent years.
"Everyone will compare him to T.J. Watt and the Bosas; those are fair comparisons," an AFC executive told Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated. "He's got really good hands, can bend and can win through contact. There lots of guys in college that are just speed-rush guys. He can win through contact."
T.J. Watt, Nick Bosa and Joey Bosa were all first-round picks and each earned Pro Bowl selections within their first two years in the NFL. The Bosas each won Defensive Rookie of the Year, while Watt is a contender for Defensive Player of the Year this season.
Hutchinson will try to live up to that as a potential No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft.
The 6'6", 265-pound lineman tallied 14 sacks this season, lifting Michigan to a Big Ten title and an appearance in the College Football Playoff semifinal. He especially turned heads with three sacks in the upset win over Ohio State, helping him finish second in voting for the Heisman Trophy.
"He’s got a great motor," the executive said. "He plays with outstanding effort—always, always playing hard. You know he’s gonna empty the tank. And again, it’s against the run, too. He sets a firm edge, he’s tough to move and he chases the ball, makes plays outside and down the field. He’s not a dynamic athlete as a rusher, but he can bend and power through."
The comparison to some of the top pass-rushers in the NFL creates a high bar for arguably the biggest name in the 2022 draft class.
There will still be competition for the No. 1 spot in the draft, including from other edge-rushers like Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux and George Karlaftis from Purdue. Quarterbacks Kenny Pickett, Desmond Ridder and Malik Willis could also challenge for the top pick in April depending on which team is on the board first.