Michigan star Aidan Hutchinson announced he's declaring for the 2022 NFL draft.
Hutchinson finished the 2021 season with 16.5 tackles for loss and 14 sacks in 14 games. He was the runner-up to Alabama's Bryce Young in the Heisman Trophy voting.
The Wolverines pass-rusher was the No. 4 overall player on the most recent big board for Bleacher Report's NFL Scouting Department.
Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux was the No. 1 player overall, and B/R Scouting Department member Derrik Klassen argued there's a clear gap between Thibodeaux and Hutchinson:
"To be fair, Hutchinson is a bit stronger and more technically refined right now. But he just does not have the movement skills in space and flexibility around the edge to rival Thibodeaux's potential.
"There's a good possibility Hutchinson starts off stronger during his professional career, but Thibodeaux has more ways to win, and that should make him the better player in the long run."
Vegas oddsmakers have a slightly different opinion. Hutchinson is the favorite (-110) over Thibodeaux (+110) at DraftKings Sportsbook to be the No. 1 overall selection.
That might have something to do with the Detroit Lions still having a shot at landing the top pick. Selecting a Wolverines star and Michigan native would almost certainly be well received by fans.
"I think it’d be great, to be honest with you," Hutchinson said in December on The Adam Schefter Podcast (via MLive.com's Benjamin Raven). "I’d be the hometown hero times two, you know? Never leaving Michigan, really."
Beyond the sentimental factor, the 6'6" defensive lineman would address an obvious need since Detroit is tied with the second-fewest sacks (26) in the NFL.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are right there alongside the Lions, so they'd make sense for Hutchinson at No. 1 for Jacksonville or No. 2 if the Lions open the draft by selecting Thibodeaux.
Because of his high standing in this year's class, Hutchinson's decision was widely expected. Even though he spent four years in Ann Arbor, the NCAA granted athletes who played during the fall 2020 season an extra year of eligibility. He could've technically enjoyed a fifth season at Michigan.
His announcement comes on the heels of fellow defensive end David Ojabo declaring for the draft. Safety Daxton Hill, the No. 118 overall player on B/R's big board, has yet to enter the draft but could be another candidate.
Heading into the 2022 campaign, head coach Jim Harbaugh may have to replace his three best defensive players from this past year.
Perhaps that's a factor behind a report from The Athletic's Bruce Feldman that Harbaugh might be willing to consider another NFL coaching job.
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