“He’s going to come in and he’s going to change the dynamic of this team just by his presence and the way he plays. He’s a true fit in every way we need a player.”
Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said this about edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson shortly after the Detroit Lions selected the Michigan man with the second overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft.
If you’re not familiar with Hutchinson, I did a deep into his history as a player in Ann Arbor and how he developed into the best player in this draft, when making the case for why the Lions should draft Hutchinson. In the piece, I highlighted his progression through Michigan’s defensive scheme made him a dynamic player capable of playing in any scheme, something Glenn echoed at his press conference.
“Obviously, he can go on the edge, all right? He’s big, so he can go inside on third down and play the 3-technique,” Glenn said. “And when we’re looking at this guy, I mean the first thing I try to do with every player is, man, working out plays, how can we get the best out of this player, how can we make this player successful. Those are some of the things we thought about. I mean, he’s the tough, aggressive, violent type of guy that we need. Obviously, we can do a lot of things with this player.”
At Michigan, Hutchinson spent a lot of time at the 3-tech as a freshman—something Glenn made a point of recognizing—before expanding to an anchor left defensive end as a sophomore and junior, and finally as a stand-up edge in the Mike McDonald's pro-style defense modeled after the Ravens.
With the Lions, Glenn expects to take advantage of all those experiences.
“Inside, outside. He can play with his hand down, he can stand up,” Glenn said. “He does a lot of things a player can do. He’s shown that at Michigan. Again, we’re going to put this player in the best position to make sure he’s successful for us.”
While Hutchinson switched between the left and right edge last season—something he will also likely do in the NFL—he looks more natural on the left side, where he figures to plug immediately into the starting lineup in base formations.
Romeo Okwara was expected to hold down the left edge spot (he played there last season), but he is currently recovering from an Achilles injury and is familiar with playing both sides as well. While Okwara recovers, look for Charles Harris to continue to start at the right edge spot, and then a rotation of the three will likely take place, once healthy—with Julian Okwara and Austin Bryant filling in where needed.