The NFL Honors are just a day away. On Thursday at 9 p.m. ET (live on both NBC and NFL Network) the winners for many postseason award will be revealed. The Detroit Lions are up for two honors for the night: offensive coordinator Ben Johnson is nominated for Assistant Coach of the Year, while Aidan Hutchinson is one of three finalists for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
On Wednesday morning, Lions defensive tackle Michael Brockers was doing his best to campaign for his teammate. Brockers joined NFL Network morning show “Good Morning Football,” and explained why he thinks Hutchinson deserves to be this year’s Defensive Rookie of the Year.
“Me, biasedly obviously, I think he should win the crown because just look at how much he—he rushes the pass really well, he drops in coverage, caught a bunch of interceptions this season, made plays,” Brockers said. “He’s always around the ball. He made an impact when he was in the game. I just think (he’s an) all-around player who just made an impact while he was on the field. I think he did at that while being a rookie.
“I tip my hat off to him, because (defensive coordinator) Aaron Glenn’s defense is not an easy defense to learn, and especially if you’re rushing the passer sometimes and you’re dropping sometimes. I just tip my hat to the guy. He’s a hell of a player. He was a great rookie. I can say that, and he has a long career ahead of him.”
Brockers brings up a decent point about Hutchinson’s versatility. Oftentimes, rookies are given very specific roles to not overburden them in their first year. That was not the case with Hutchinson. The Lions threw everything at him, and rarely even took him off the field. Early downs, passing situations, running situations—they were all on Hutchinson’s plate from Day 1. In fact, only one edge defender in the entire NFL played more snaps than him (Maxx Crosby). And Hutchinson took it all on and improved week-by-week, finishing first among rookie defensive linemen in both sacks (9.5) and interceptions (three). Outside of Hutchinson, the entire 2022 defensive line rookie class only had two interceptions.
That said, Hutchinson will have a tough time beating out the heavy favorite in New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner. The fourth overall pick led all NFL cornerbacks in pass breakups (20) and PFF grade (87.9). Gardner walked away with the Pro Football Writers of America Defensive Rookie of the Year in January.
The NFL Honors award is decided upon by writers for the Associated Press. In addition to Gardner, Hutchinson is also going up against Seahawks cornerback Tariq Woolen for the award.