The Detroit Lions are a team that, in Year 2 of this rebuild, continues to rely heavily on their youth. Last year, the Lions' rookie class saw a ton of contributions, with draft picks like Penei Sewell, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Alim McNeill, and Derrick Barnes playing significant snaps throughout the year. Even undrafted players like AJ Parker, Brock Wright, and Jerry Jacobs had huge roles as a rookie.
A year later, the Lions likely won’t be relying so heavily on their rookie class. That’s not an indictment of the players they drafted. Rather, it’s a sign of progress on their roster.
Still, between the players drafted this year and the undrafted class, the Lions currently have six rookies on the active 53-man roster. Who will emerge as the most important piece this year?
Our staff made their predictions for 2022 Detroit Lions Rookie of the Year:
Previous staff predictions: Offensive MVP, Defensive MVP
Erik Schlitt: Aidan Hutchinson
At this time, the Lions have five defensive rookies on their 53-man roster and two of them are in contention for starting roles: Aidan Hutchinson and Malcolm Rodriguez. As much as I would love to gush about “Rodrigo” here—because it would be nice to have a solid linebacker again—Hutchinson is a game changer that makes everyone around him better. Even as a rookie, opposing coaches will have to game plan for how to handle him and offenses will have to take account of where Hutchinson lines up pre-snap. He might not only be the best defensive rookie, but he is also arguably the Lions’ best defensive player.
Chris Perfett: Aidan Hutchinson
Oh my god, the Lions have a pass rush on the edge. Everyone stay calm. I feel like much of the rookie class hype has been consumed by Rodrigo and JaMo, and while they are excellent players in their own right, we cannot forget the talent, power, and violence that Hutchinson possesses that led to his pick as the second overall selection in the NFL draft.
Morgan Cannon: Aidan Hutchinson
From what we have seen from the rookie in the pre-season, I fully expect Hutchinson to be an impact performer when the season begins. Statistics like sacks may not come right away, but he will be a disruptive force along the defensive line from the jump. Setting edges against the run, quarterback hurries and hits, tackles for loss–these are all things to keep an eye on for the rookie out of Michigan.
John Whiticar: Aidan Hutchinson
In limited preseason snaps, he has looked the part of dominant pass rusher for Detroit. Even if he’s operating out of a rotation, I still think he’ll make a significant impact. No offense to the other rookies on the team, but if Hutchinson doesn’t win this title, then something must’ve gone disastrously wrong.
Ryan Mathews: Aidan Hutchinson
The Lions’ Rookie of the Year in 2022 will be Aidan Hutchinson. As much as some might want to place their chips behind Malcolm Rodriguez after he took the preseason by storm, Hutchinson will be steady and productive both in run defense and as a pass rusher.
Hamza Baccouche: Aidan Hutchinson
Aidan Hutchinson doesn’t have to do much in 2022 to run away with this one. Jameson Williams is not expected to make meaningful contributions this year, and Josh Pachal is way behind schedule after missing highly valuable training camp reps; as far as I’m concerned, his rookie year is almost as much of a wash as Williams’. Kerby Joseph has shown a dire need for development through the preseason, and no Lions draft pick beyond him should contend with the second overall pick for Lions ROTY. Hutchinson has shown in the preseason that he’s ready to deliver impact from day one, and the bar will be low for him to top the Lions’ rookie class.
Jerry Mallory: Aidan Hutchinson
When you want to make correct predictions, there is no time to get cute and serve up hot takes. The aforementioned Hutchinson will be considered one of the best players for the Lions overall—not just among rookies. We are hoping several of his draft mates can make similar noise this year as it’ll be a great sign for the future of this roster.
Mike Payton: Aidan Hutchinson
It has to be Aidan Hutchinson. I’m so sold on this kid right now that I had a hard time not giving him the team’s defensive MVP award. Hutchinson seems to be as advertised so far. He looks like he’s going to be an instant problem for opposing offensive linemen.
Jeremy Reisman: Aidan Hutchinson
If you’re No. 2 overall pick isn’t the best rookie on the team, something has either gone terribly wrong or terribly right. We’d all love to say Rodrigo here, but the fact of the matter is that Hutchinson has met every challenge thus far, and his floor is incredibly high for a rookie. It’s not a question of if his rookie season will be good. It’s a question of how good it’ll be.
Who will be the Lions’ Rookie of the Year in 2022?
This poll is closed