Aidan Hutchinson wanted to stay home and become a Detroit Lion throughout the entire draft process, he revealed Thursday night after the Lions selected him with the No. 2 overall pick in Thursday's first round of the NFL Draft in Las Vegas.
"It was such an honor to be on that stage and be picked by the Lions," Hutchinson told reporters during a conference call after the pick. "It was the Lions all the way. The whole draft process wanted the Lions to pick me. I'm so grateful I went No. 2 to them. It was so good. I'm still trying to process it. I'm so grateful, for sure."
Hutchinson set the Wolverines' single-season sack record (14.0) last season and also notched 16.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
He's got terrific size (6-7, 260) and strength, which should allow him to play up and down the Lions defensive front, though he's most likely to slot into one of the defensive end spots in Detroit's new 4-3 base defense and give them an elite pass rusher off the edge.
"When we were looking at this guy, the first thing I try to do with each player is man, 'Where can I play this player and how can we get the best out of this player and make this player successful,' defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said.
"He's a tough, aggressive, violent type of guy that we need. We can do a lot of things with this player."
Glenn said he went back and watched Hutchinson's freshman tape at Michigan when he played mostly inside in the three-technique and was really impressed with his position versatility. Glenn said Hutchinson has the skillset to play up and down the defensive line.
Glenn also said he and Hutchinson really hit it off in the pre-draft process. He said the Lions deserved Hutchinson and Hutchinson deserved playing for this Lions coaching staff.
Detroit's 30 sacks were the third fewest in the NFL a year ago, they had the second lowest pass-rush win rate, and their 124 quarterback pressures were more than only Indianapolis (120) and Atlanta (105). Hutchinson is arguably the best pass rusher in this class.
He is coming off a monster 2021 season at Michigan where he won the Lott IMPACT Award, Lombardi Award and Ted Hendricks Award, while also being named first-team Associated Press All-American and Big Ten Conference Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year and Defensive Lineman of the Year.
The two-time Wolverine captain was also the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy and a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy (also known as the Academic Heisman), Walter Camp Player of the Year and Senior CLASS Award (excellence on and off the field).
The Lions re-signed Charles Harris this offseason, who led the team with 7.5 sacks last season, and are expected to get Romeo Okwara (10 sacks in 2020) back from an Achilles injury suffered last season, but Hutchinson gives defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn another big-time rusher off the edge to throw at opposing quarterbacks. Hutchinson is scheme versatile, and can set the edge in the run game just as effectively as he can get after the quarterback.
"He is going to come in and change the dynamic of this team just by his presence and the way he plays," Glenn said of Hutchinson. "He's a true fit in every way that we need a player."