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2022 Detroit Lions Awards: Defensive Player of the Year

Will Aidan Hutchinson run away with Lions Defensive Player of the Year honors, or is another player worthy of the award?

Syndication: USA TODAY Tork Mason / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Detroit Lions' defense wasn’t good last year, but by the end of the season, it did provide one thing: hope. Down the stretch, the Lions' defense wasn’t just better, it was good. Since Week 9, the Lions allowed just 20.2 points per game, which ranked 11th over that time period. Over the same span, the Lions' defense ranked 17th—a considerable improvement from their 32nd rank (by a considerable margin) over the first eight weeks of the season.

That defensive turnaround can be attributed to a lot of things and a lot of players. But there can only be one Defensive Player of the Year for the Lions.

Here are our staff’s nominations for the latest 2022 Detroit Lions Award: Defensive Player of the Year.


Jeremy Reisman

Aidan Hutchinson

I have to go with the guy who had the most game-changing plays (9.5 sacks, 5 turnovers), most game-by-game impact, highest PFF score (80.7), and finished second in snaps, only trailing every-down linebacker Alex Anzalone. It was, quite simply, a jaw-dropping rookie campaign for Hutchinson, as he clearly jumped to the top of the list of best Lions defenders on the team.

Mike Payton

Aidan Hutchinson

Going with Aidan Hutchinson here as well. 9.5 sacks and three interceptions is no easy feat, but the rookie made it look easy. Again, I can't wait to see what this guy does next year.

Alex Reno

Aidan Hutchinson

Hutchinson isn’t just the best rookie, but the best player the Lions have on defense. If not for Sauce Gardner having one of the best rookie seasons in recent memory, he would have run away with NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. Hutchinson is a great pass rusher, but he can be even better, and when he isn’t wreaking havoc in the backfield, he’s affecting the game in other ways, like dropping back into coverage and somehow intercepting three passes as a defensive lineman. Big shoutout to the Jacksonville Jaguars for overthinking it and taking Travon Walker at first overall, because I’m sure the Lions couldn’t be happier with how that played out right now.

John Whiticar

Aidan Hutchinson

Hutchinson was the best player on defense, and I don’t think it was particularly close. Not only did Hutchinson lead the team in sacks, but he was second on the team in snaps played behind Alex Anzalone. Hutchinson started off slow, and despite the three-sack game against the Washington Commanders, he looked overwhelmed at times. Yet when the Lions started improving, so too did Hutchinson. His second half was phenomenal, shining in all phases. Pass rushing was an obvious plus, while his run defense stood out as well. Even his coverage was solid, notching three (!) interceptions. When Hutchinson wasn’t making plays himself, he was setting up his teammates to make them. He’s a focal point of the defense.

Hamza Baccouche

Aidan Hutchinson

Hard to go with anyone but Aidan Hutchinson here. When he was dealing with a charley horse early in the season, the defense clearly took a step back. He finished not just as the best rookie edge rusher, but as one of the best edge rushers in the league period. His growth and upwards trajectory are highly encouraging, and the success of the defense moving forward is anchored by his performance.

Ryan Mathews

Aidan Hutchinson

See my explanation for Rookie of the Year.

Morgan Cannon

Aidan Hutchinson

Definitely the chalky pick, but the numbers speak for themselves. Hutchinson was often this team’s best edge defender against the run, led all rookies in sacks with 9.5 on the year, and added three interceptions for good measure. Being the number two overall pick in the draft comes with some lofty expectations. In my opinion, Hutchinson met all of them.

Erik Schlitt

Aidan Hutchinson

I gushed over Hutchinson when I picked him as my Rookie of the Year candidate and for a lot of those same reasons, he is my pick here as well. His stats are above average, his work ethic is off the charts, and his ability to make the players around him better was clear from the moment he stepped onto the field in Allen Park.

A lot of what impressed me about Hutchinson as the season wore on was his discipline and ability to put the team first. Look no further than the Lions’ second game against the Bears. Justin Fields was a running machine this year, but in that second game, Hutchinson locked his side down and refused to let the quarterback leak outside of his contain. Hutchinson’s stats were lower than average that outing, but his teammates showed marked improvements as Hutchinson forced Fields away from his side and into the waiting arms of a teammate.


Who was the Lions’ Defensive Player of the Year?

This poll is closed

  • 91%
    Aidan Hutchinson
    (1833 votes)
  • 2%
    James Houston
    (54 votes)
  • 0%
    Alim McNeill
    (13 votes)
  • 0%
    DeShon Elliott
    (15 votes)
  • 2%
    Alex Anzalone
    (43 votes)
  • 2%
    Kerby Joseph
    (47 votes)
  • 0%
    Other (list in comment section)
    (8 votes)
2013 votes total Vote Now

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