NFL quarterbacks beware.
Detroit Lions second-year edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson was afforded an offseason to build up his body and work solely on his craft, and he said it's made him the very best version of himself.
"It's crazy the difference in how I feel over this year timespan," Hutchinson said Thursday after Detroit's first open OTA practice of the spring. "I feel stronger than ever. I feel more mobile than ever. I really think just having an offseason to take my time and focus on some of my body deficiencies has helped me a ton. I can't wait."
Neither can Lions fans.
Hutchinson is coming off a rookie season in which he logged 9.5 sacks (the most among all rookies), three interceptions and two fumble recoveries, earning runner-up Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.
Combining his 37 quarterback hurries, 9.5 sacks and five quarterback hits, Hutchinson produced 53 total pressures in 2022, the most among all NFL rookies. Heading into his second season, Hutchinson said Thursday his confidence is through the roof.
"Me personally, I feel like I'm just on a completely different level," he said. "Instinctually. My explosiveness. Everywhere on the board I feel like I've taken myself to the next level."
Hutchinson is a core piece to what the Lions hope is a much-improved defense in 2023. We saw the last 10 games of the 2022 season how much better Detroit's defense could play, fueled by the play of Hutchinson and other key players.
With the new veteran and rookie additions on that side of the ball, Hutchinson thinks the defense can be vastly improved from a season ago. The most significant moves were adding veteran defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson along with veteran cornerbacks Cam Sutton and Emmanuel Moseley.
A stouter secondary means more time for Hutchinson, fellow second-year edge rusher James Houston and the rest of Detroit's pass rushers to get to opposing quarterbacks. That certainly hasn't been lost on Hutchinson.
View photos from Day 3 of Detroit Lions OTA practice on Thursday, May 25, 2023 in Allen Park, Mich.
"It gets me fired up just seeing that," he said. "I think they believe in our pass rush they believe we have guys who can go get the passer and they just went and got some guys in the back end to make that quarterback hold it a little bit longer.
"It gets me fired up because you know what Brad (Holmes) and Dan (Campbell) are doing is trying to make the push for right now. Getting the DBs, Cam (Sutton) and those guys, and drafting Jack (Campbell), a guy who is going to be ready Day 1 ... you can tell the boys are making a push right now."