A U-M Player Consistently Showing Up As A 1st-Round Pick In '22 Mock Drafts
The 2021 NFL Draft came to an end this past weekend, but that hasn't stopped prognosticators from already looking ahead to next year's annual event. One Michigan Wolverines football player has consistently appeared as a first rounder in all of the early projections — junior defensive end Aidan Hutchinson.
We took a look at mock drafts from the six of the most notable sports outlets we could find (all of which have been released within the past 48 hours), and sure enough, Hutchinson was projected as a first-round pick in all of them.
What was perhaps a bit surprising, though, was that no other Wolverines were tabbed as first-round picks in any of the mock drafts we looked at. Granted, the talent level isn't what it was earlier in Jim Harbaugh's tenure (2015-18, most notably), but there are still a few players who could hear their names called fairly early in 2022.
Sophomore safety Daxton Hill is the most notable candidate (alongside Hutchinson). It would not be a surprise if he came off the board early in the 2022 NFL Draft if he chooses to leave school early.
A quick glance at Michigan's 2021 roster makes it difficult to find many others who fall into the same category as Hutchinson and Hill. A huge year from sophomore wideout Cornelius Johnson, for example, could vault him into the upper echelon of the 2022 draft (again, if he chooses to leave school early), with the 6-3, 205-pounder possessing a semi-appealing body type for the NFL.
This narrative is perhaps a bit premature for someone who has just 315 career receiving yards and four touchdowns, though, which further exemplifies how seemingly devoid Michigan's 2021 roster is of top-end talent.
Hutchinson will likely be viewed as Michigan's top pro prospect up until the 2021 season actually kicks off, and perhaps until next year's draft as well. Here is where the current top projectors have him potentially going in 2022 (ordered from highest to lowest), beginning with a bit of an eyebrow raiser…
"The Eagles grab a long-term building block for their defensive line. Hutchinson was excellent to open 2020, collecting 13 tackles and a pass batted before going down with an ankle fracture that required surgery.
"He broke out as a sophomore for the Wolverines as a tough defender who flashed pass-rush ability. In 2019, he had 68 tackles with 4.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. Hutchinson has excellent size for the next level in that he could be a base end in a 4-3 or a 3-4 five-technique defensive end.
"Improving his pass-rush production would help Hutchinson, but he is a phenomenal run defender who flashes an ability to get to the quarterback."
"We were glad Hutchinson returned to school because we thought he needs to continue to improve his game before declaring for the draft. He has the size and bulk for the part; now he just needs to play with more consistency."
"The Lions, after using their early pick to replace [quarterback Jared] Goff, should be locked into more defensive help here. The edge should call after they solidified tackle in the 2021 draft."
"The Cleveland Browns completely overhauled their defense this offseason. In doing so, the team signed defensive ends Jadeveon Clowney and Takkarist McKinley. Surprisingly, general manager Andrew Berry didn't add another via the draft despite the two free agents only signing one-year deals.
"Ultimately, [defensive end] Myles Garrett needs a long-term bookend. Maybe that's Clowney or even McKinley depending on how they play this fall. The solution is more likely to come from the draft.
"Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson fits the profile of what Cleveland looks for in its first-round selections. He plays a premium position at a pipeline program and won't turn 22 until four months after being drafted.
"The 6'6", 269-pound defensive end is powerful at the point of attack and would provide a physical presence opposite Garrett."
"Hutchinson was considered a borderline first-rounder last fall before a fractured leg ended his season and forced him to return to school. He is on pace to be fully healthy for the fall, and scouts will be interested if he shows the same pre-injury lower-body agility and upper-body power."
"For the Chiefs, there’s room to improve their pass rush on the edge. Furthermore, they’ll have a few interior linemen hitting free agency in 2022. Standing at around 6-foot-6, 270 pounds, Hutchinson has the versatility to help in both phases, and his motor always runs hot."
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