On Tuesday, the NFL named six finalists for the 2022 “Pepsi Zero Sugar Rookie of the Year,” and, as expected, Detroit Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson was one of the nominees. To be clear, this is not the award that is given out at the NFL Honors in the week leadup to the Super Bowl. This is a fan-voted award. The winner—and I’m not making this up—will receive a “specifically designed, Pepsi Zero Sugar-themed trophy.”
Hutchinson finished his rookie season with 52 tackles. 9.5 sacks, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries. He’s the first NFL player to produce those sacks/interception/fumble recovery numbers since Hall of Famer Richard Dent did it in 1990. He was also named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for both November and the combined months of December and January.
Here are the five other candidates for the award and their statlines for the 2022 season:
- Jets CB Sauce Gardner: 75 tackles, 20 passes defended, 2 INTs
- Saints WR Chris Olave: 72 catches, 1,042 yards, 4 TDs
- Seahawks RB Kenneth Walker: 1,050 rushing yards, 9 TDs
- Jets WR Garrett Wilson: 83 receptions, 1,103 yards, 4 TDs
- Seahawks CB Tariq Woolen: 63 tackles, 16 passes defended, 6 INTs
You can vote for Aidan Hutchinson here. Vote early and often, because those Jets voters don’t quit (but hopefully Gardner and Wilson split their votes).