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Notes: PFF projects Aidan Hutchinson to have the best rookie season among EDGEs

PFF believes Aidan Hutchinson could produce around 10 sacks his rookie season and have the best year among this EDGE class.

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It’s hard to know what to expect from any player’s rookie season. Sometimes it’s best to temper expectations, as even the best players in every draft class require an assimilation period. The NFL is an entirely different ballgame.

However, when the player was drafted in the top three, it’s hard not to get excited about immediate contributions. After all, in the case of the Detroit Lions, both general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell spoke about their desire of getting a player who could come in and contribute immediately.

The Lions got that guy with Aidan Hutchinson, but it’s still unclear how much we should expect from the former Michigan edge defender. We polled Pride of Detroit readers a week ago, and 62 percent of you believed he will finish somewhere in the 7-9 sack range for his rookie season. Eighteen percent said 10-12, while 14 percent said only 4-6.

PFF provided their Year 1 expectations for the 2022 edge defender class, and they fall on the more optimistic end of the spectrum when it comes to Hutchinson. Not only do they project Hutchinson to have the most productive season among this year’s rookie pass rushers, but it’s not particularly close. Here’s a breakdown by median projections:

Aidan Hutchinson: 57.0 pressures, 9.4 sacks, 16.5 run stops
Kayvon Thibodeaux: 52.7 pressures, 8.9 sacks, 15 run stops
Travon Walker: 43.4 pressures, 7.2 sacks, 14.5 run stops
Jermaine Johnson: 45.5 pressures, 7.7 sacks, 14.75 run stops

To put those numbers in context, Hutchinson 57 projected pressures would have ranked 18th in the NFL last year. Charles Harris had the most pressures on the Lions with 52. Hutchinson’s 16.5 projected run stops would’ve ranked 24th last season.

PFF’s Eric eager explained why they’re so high on Hutchinson’s projections with some eye-popping stats.

“In 2021, Hutchinson placed in the 98th percentile in PFF pass-rushing grade among players who eventually played in the NFL, the 99th percentile in pass-rush grade on “true pass rushes,” the 97th percentile in pass-rush grade on pass plays without play action, the 98th percentile in overall pass-rush win rate and the 99th percentile in run-defense grade.”

If Hutchinson were to eclipse 10.0 sacks this season—which is right around PFF’s projection—he would become the ninth rookie defender to hit double-digit sacks since 2010, with Micah Parsons' 13.0 sacks in 2021 being the latest instance.

  • Also from PFF: the top 25 players under 25 years old. No Lions made the list, but Penei Sewell made the honorable mentions section. Because Sewell is only 21 years old, don’t be surprised if he makes this list next year... or the year after that... or the year after that.

  • I’ll be completely honest, I don’t know what’s going on in this video, but it shows a little personality from the Lions’ rookie class and Detroit’s social media team:

  • Lions rookies were treated to a tour of Ford Field earlier this week:

  • Jessie Lemonier, who was waived by the Lions earlier this week, was claimed off waivers by the Arizona Cardinals, according to his agency. Lemonier joins Rashod Berry (Jaguars) and Matt Sokol (Patriots) as former Lions who were claimed by other teams after being waived by Detroit in the past week.