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Sauce Gardner, not Aidan Hutchinson, wins Defensive Rookie of the Year

Hutchinson won the fan vote, but Gardner won the AP vote.

NFL: Super Bowl LVII-NFL Honors Red Carpet Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Aidan Hutchinson may have won the fan-voted Pepsi Rookie of the Year award on Thursday morning, but he didn’t walk away with the hardware at Thursday night’s NFL Honors event. The Associated Press, instead, chose New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner as the 2022 Defensive Rookie of the Year.

This topic has been hotly debated amongst Lions fans since the season ending, with our own Ryan Mathews believing Gardner had the edge over Hutchinson.

The truth is both players would have been worthy of the honor. Gardner was arguably one of the best cornerbacks in football in 2022, leading the league in both pass breakups (20) and PFF grade. Hutchinson produced 9.5 sacks on the season and tallied three interceptions, as well. To give you an idea of how rare that combination is, the top 25 players in sacks this season all combined for three total interceptions.

Hutchinson came in second in voting, but he wasn’t all that close to catching Gardner. Here’s a look at the voting breakdown:

Sauce Gardner

  • 46 first place votes
  • 4 second place votes

Aidan Hutchinson

  • 3 first place votes
  • 35 second place votes
  • 9 third place votes

Hutchinson may not have come away with the more prestigious award on Thursday, but there’s plenty to be excited about for his future, and that’s the only thing that really matters in the end.

In addition to Hutchinson missing out on Defensive Rookie of the Year, Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson also failed to win his category at the NFL Honors on Thursday night. Instead, (former) 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans was named Assistant Coach of the Year.

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