I’m not going to say I told you, but man, I tried to tell everyone.
A few weeks ago, when I have he has declared that the Detroit Lions were the best winless team I’d ever seen, and argued that not only were they not the worst team in the league, but that they wouldn’t be picked first in the next year’s draft, I was mocked by the building.
Well, as of Sunday night, Lions no longer hold the top pick of the 2022 NFL Draft. This honor now belongs to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
When the Lions had the first overall pick in the draft, it was clear who they would get: Aidan Hutchinson (6ft-6, 265lb) of the Michigan edge rusher. It was built to relocate from Ann Arbor as well. plays for the Lions in Detroit. He grew up half an hour from Motor City. He went to UM for college. He went on the record saying how much he would like to play for the Lions. Yes sir, Hutchinson and the Lions are a perfect match. However, with the Jaguars now holding the top pick in the draft, does that mean the Hutchinson-Lions reunion that many fans were hoping to have is ruined?
The impulsive fan inside me says no. The story of a young man who grows up cheering on his local team, going to his father’s alma mater where he beats the school’s single-season sack record, being drafted by his No. 1 overall, so potentially bringing that historically miserable team to its first league … that’s too awesome to pass up. However, the realist in me says, “yes, it probably won’t happen”.
It really boils down to whether or not the Jaguars think that Kayvon Thibodeaux, 6ft 5ft 258lb from Oregon, may turn out to be as good as Hutchinson. For many people, the answer is yes. Just a few weeks ago, it would have been a blasphemy suppose someone other than Thibodeaux would have been taken first ever. The Oregon border defender employs a unique blend of power and technique that reminds many people of choice no. 1 of 2017 Myles Garrett. The similarities are clearly there, but in recent weeks, Hutchinson’s staggering rise in the ranks of Michigan’s all-time leaders has taken its eyes off Thibodeaux.
Hutchinson was runner-up in this year’s Heisman Trophy. His incredible 14-sack production this season helped bring the Wolverines to their first-ever appearance at the College Football Playoffs and their first Big Ten title since 2004. Hutchinson has routinely dominated the nation’s biggest competition, and he did it with a flurry of thrilling moves that would make even the most talented linemen feel inferior.
The key difference between Thibodeaux and Hutchinson is their fast running style. Thibodeaux loves his bull run and speed moves to unbalance his offensive linesman, pushing himself towards the quarterback. He also, oddly enough, got very good at using his hands to help push. Most edge rushers like to get the linesmen off their hands quickly so they can run more freely in the backfield. Not Thibodeaux. He takes his hand back and loves to put his left hand on the linesman’s face and use that kind of stiff arm to help him push. It makes him more versatile as a rusher as he doesn’t always try to make a move on the outside or inside of his opponent, but rather straight ahead. Thibodeaux could work as an inside D-lineman, edge rusher, or outside linebacker with the strength he showed in college. He appears to be a “hand in the dirt” type of player, while Hutchinson is much more suited to an outside linebacker role type. Not a problem for Hutchinson. In fact, in terms of sheer ability to pass quickly, I don’t think Thibodeaux is as good as Hutchinson. However, Thibodeaux’s versatility makes him more attractive to a team that needs help in multiple positions on the D line.
To move on. Look at the Jaguar depth chart and tell me what you see. Aside from Josh Allen, they need help everywhere on that defensive line. The only decent guy there is Dawuane Smoot, and he’s not exactly the kind of player you can brag about.
It doesn’t matter who gets Jacksonville, assuming they keep the No. 1 for the rest of the regular season, it just can’t screw it up. Both Hutchinson and Thibodeaux are extraordinary prospects who are sure to make an impact as soon as they step onto the pitch, and both would be great additions in front of Allen. However, Thibodeaux would almost certainly fit Jaguars better than Hutchinson would. So yes! The dream is still alive that Hutchinson can find his way onto the Lions roster. Let’s hope Jaguars see it the same way.