2019 Season Countdown: #3 Aidan Hutchinson

2019 Season Countdown: #3 Aidan Hutchinson

August 27, 2019
Aidan Hutchinson (image via Wolverines Wire)

Name: Aidan Hutchinson
278 lbs.
High school:
Dearborn (MI) Divine Child
Defensive end
Jersey number:
Last year:
I ranked Hutchinson #66 and said he would be a backup defensive end (LINK). He made 15 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss.
TTB Rating:

Hutchinson flew under the radar a little bit in 2018, which is understandable when you have a dynamic player like Chase Winovich at one defensive end and the former #1 player overall at the other defensive end spot. You could be an excellent player and still not receive much attention. Hutchinson wasn’t excellent, but he still showed flashes. You could tell the game was moving a little too quickly for him, and sometimes his reads just couldn’t keep up. He finished the season with 15 total tackles, but his playing time and production dwindled when the going got tough late in the year.

This year Hutchinson makes a jump all the way from #66 up to #3, which is a huge leap. That is the result of two major factors:

1. I think he’s going to be very good.
2. Michigan needs him on the field.

I said during the 2018 recruiting cycle that I thought Hutchinson was the best player in the State of Michigan, and nothing I’ve seen so far has caused me to stray from that evaluation. The physical skills are there. It’s the mental side of things that was a bit of an issue. Now he has a year under his belt, he’s getting more reps in practice, and he’s also 278 lbs. of muscle.

As for needing him on the field, Michigan is a little depleted on the defensive line. Winovich and Gary both moved on to the NFL, and there’s a lot of talent at defensive end but not much experience. Kwity Paye at weakside end is a junior, and fifth year senior Mike Danna played quite a bit at Central Michigan, but behind them are all players who haven’t seen the field. On top of that inexperience, Michigan needs the defensive line to come up big because of a lack of talent and depth at the cornerback positions. If they can’t put pressure on quarterbacks, teams could quite possibly pick apart Ambry Thomas, Vincent Gray, Jaylen Kelly-Powell, and others on the back end.

Prediction: Starting Anchor; 50 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 5 sacks


  1. Comments: 6285
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Aug 27, 2019 at 10:48 AM

    “Paye has great versatility, but Michigan also has a fair amount of depth, especially at his primary position, defensive end. ”

    I don’t know man. I agree with everything you said about Hutchinson but i don’t know how you put him 14 spots above Paye – the guy that stepped in at SDE/Anchor when Gary went down. Hutchinson’s like Dwumfour – we’ve seen flashes, we’ve heard talk, but there’s yet to be proof. 0 sacks. 1 TFL.

    Of course I hope you are right, but this highly highly speculative for a guy ranked this high.

    • Comments: 6285
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Aug 27, 2019 at 1:33 PM

      Hutchinson could be the 3rd best player on the team and the next great at Anchor. I hope he is. He had an extremely promising year for a freshman despite any real statistical production. Earned meaningful PT and passed the eye test. That’s something.

      BUT the general logic with most players in this space – you gotta prove it first, not just get some hype (e.g., Dwumfour). Notable exceptions this year with a couple of the skill position freshman. Doesn’t mean it’s wrong…just a different perspective, particularly for this high in the countdown.

      • Comments: 6285
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Aug 27, 2019 at 3:50 PM

        This got me curious about other relatively unproven sophomores who got ranked in the TTB top 10. There are only a few of them, so these are outliers from the typical “show me first” logic applied. Here is the list I came up with (may not cover everyone but I tried to go back the last 5 years):

        Rank by year of eligibility for freshman, sophomore, etc.

        Kalis: 29, 9, 10, 18
        Magnuson: 76, 4, 11, 17
        Hudson: 46, 8, 2, 14
        Cole: 58, 8, 3, 4
        Peppers: 23, 3, 2, x
        Gary: 23, 2, 4, x
        Bush: 31, 9, 10, x
        Black: 27, 9, 22, ?
        DPJ: 34, 6, 9, ?
        Ruiz: 24, 5, 5, ?
        Hutchinson: 66, 3, ?, ?

        Of course if you’re in the top 10 it’s hard to find space to go up but there’s a general pattern that these super sophs tend to fall back once the hype wears down a bit and tread water if it doesn’t.

        Cole, Peppers and Hudson were the only juniors to move up from their soph ranking. Ruiz held steady. Hudson dropped out of the top 10 for this his senior year, while Peppers obviously left before his. Cole is the only one who stuck in the top 10 for all 3 of his non-freshman seasons — Impressive!

        My guess, even if Hutch succeeds to some degree, he’ll end up falling down the TTB rankings in 2020. Of course it would be really hard for him to move up unless he moves over to QB.

        • Comments: 3844
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Aug 27, 2019 at 8:46 PM

          It’s interesting to look at, so thanks for taking the time to put it together. That being said, there are a lot of other considerations taking place, such as the depth at the position, the team needs for that year, the quality of talent, etc.

          • Comments: 6285
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Aug 28, 2019 at 10:20 AM

            Of course. Thanks for putting it together all these years.

      • Comments: 6285
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Aug 28, 2019 at 11:58 AM


        I think Hutchinson is going to be really good the next 2 years. All conference honors, NFL draft pick, etc. Another big Don Brown Anchor prototype that controls the edge.

        I don’t think he’s going to produce big sack numbers. He’ll be an Anchor, like Wormley, Gary, and Paye.

        I don’t think he’s going to face criticism the way those other guys did. Some will grumble about ‘production’ but more will be quick to note the history at the position. The reception will be very different and Hutchinson will be widely praised and loved by fans.

        • Comments: 3844
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Aug 28, 2019 at 12:02 PM

          If Hutchinson only produces 6.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks in a season before jumping to the NFL, I will be happy to grumble about him.

        • Comments: 6285
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Aug 28, 2019 at 3:42 PM

          The starting anchor has averaged 8.5 TFL (11.5, 7.5, 6.5).
          The starting anchor has averaged just under 5 sacks (5.5, 5.5, 3.5)

          I expect Hutchinson to produce in a similar range in the next 2 years. 6 to 12 TFL. 4-7 sacks

          If that happens, We’ll see what happens. I think praise will be far less reserved. There will be significantly less grumbling from the fanbase.

  2. Comments: 1863
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    Aug 27, 2019 at 12:00 PM

    Yeah, this one is high for me. Given our situation at Corner, Hill should be higher, but one spot isn’t a debate. I do think he belongs closer to Paye though

    • Comments: 3844
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Aug 27, 2019 at 12:24 PM

      When Ambry Thomas’s health wasn’t a question mark back in the spring, I think Hill was fine. If I had known Thomas wouldn’t be 100%, the ranking would have changed.

      Not that this is everything, but I just saw an article where Nick Eubanks said Hutchinson is the toughest guy to block on the defensive line. Not Paye or Mike Danna.

      So we’ll see. It’s all speculation prior to game one.

  3. Comments: 25
    Joined: 11/13/2015
    Aug 27, 2019 at 2:41 PM

    This is a huge leap from last year at #66, obviously. I expected him to show up a lot earlier, so much so that I thought he’d been missed from the countdown altogether. After reading and re-reading Thunder’s take on him, I’m now feeling a lot better about the position group and the defense overall. Getting after the QB is what Don Brown’s defense is predicated on and it’s especially important this year with relatively weak CB depth. Hope he’s right!

  4. Comments: 79
    Joined: 10/3/2015
    Aug 28, 2019 at 9:58 AM

    Did I miss Donovan Jeter in the countdown? Unless I’m mistaken, it looks like Patterson is #1 with Bredeson at #2 so trying to figure out where I missed Jeter.

    • Comments: 3844
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Aug 28, 2019 at 10:07 AM


      • Comments: 79
        Joined: 10/3/2015
        Aug 28, 2019 at 11:33 AM

        Wow, looking forward to reading that write-up! Very interesting year for the countdown – arguments to be made really from 3 – 20.

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