Coming off a heartbreaking road loss to the Colts, the Jaguars are now 2-7. They currently hold the fourth overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Last week I started my prospect breakdowns for 2022 with Alabama OL Evan Neal. This week I decided to let you decide who I'd break down, and Michigan EDGE Aidan Hutchinson narrowly beat out Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton in my Twitter poll.
Hutchinson stands 6'6" tall and weighs in at an impressive 265 pounds. The senior from Plymouth, Michigan, has football in his DNA — his dad, Chris, played DE/OLB for the Wolverines in the late 80s and early 90s.
Strengths: Hutchinson has elite size, strength, flexibility, and athleticism on the edge. According to reports, his vertical is in the mid-30s, showing off rare explosiveness; he runs in the low 4.6s, rare speed for his size, and crushes the weight room, displaying strength. But Hutchinson is far more than just an explosive athlete. He's a 3-4 stand-up EDGE at Michigan that knows how to use speed, length, and strength to get after the quarterback. He can bend the edge, go straight through blocks, or work inside to create pressure from both sides of the line. He is a smart and stout run defender. He also displays the ability to drop into shallow zones. Perhaps his best trait is his relentless motor. The kid gives incredible effort down in and down out.
Weaknesses: Prior to 2021, the one real weakness you could point to was a lack of pass rush variance and production. But in 2021, he's ramped it up in both areas. He's produced nine sacks, 10.5 tackles for loss, two passes defended, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, 42 total tackles, and 50 QB pressures. I'm not sure there's a significant weakness to speak of in his game.
Overall: It's taken a few years for Hutchinson to get here, but in 2020 he played in just two games due to shortened season and leg fracture. He likely would have broken out last year, but in 2021 there hasn't been a more dominant EDGE in college football. Kayvon Thibodeaux is the likely number one pick, but Aidan Hutchinson should get consideration for the top spot too. He's that good. He might end up my top overall prospect for 2022. His combination of size, athleticism, skill, and will make him a rare prospect.
Does he make sense for the Jaguars? You bet! Hutchinson fits perfectly in Joe Cullen's 3-4 scheme as DE/OLB that can rush the passer, play the run, and drop into coverage. Pairing him with Josh Allen could give the Jaguars one of the best young pass rush duos in football.
Unless the Jaguars go on a massive losing streak, I doubt Hutchinson will be available when they make their first pick next spring, but if this thoroughbred is still on the board, he should be in consideration. I have not finalized my evaluations of Derek Stingley or Kyle Hamilton, and the Jaguars certainly need help on the back end of their defense, but I'd have a hard time passing on Hutchinson if he's available.
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