2021 Season Countdown: #1 Aidan Hutchinson
Name: Aidan Hutchinson
Weight: 265 lbs.
High school: Dearborn (MI) Divine Child
Position: Outside linebacker
Jersey number: #97
Last year: I ranked Hutchinson #88 and said he would be the starting strongside end (LINK). He made 15 tackles.
TTB Rating: 88
Hutchinson’s solid 2019 season seemed to have him primed for a huge year in 2020, so when he made 15 tackles from his defensive end position in the first two games, it seemed like he was tracking well. Then he got hurt early in the third game against Indiana, and I felt a little bit of life drain out of me. Michigan was already in bad shape, having lost to Michigan State and, in that game, having lost Jalen Mayfield and Ryan Hayes, too. The Wolverines were cursed in 2020.
Hutchinson himself has a relentless motor. Along with those impressive 15 tackles for a defensive lineman across two games, he seemed one or two steps away from making several sacks. I don’t know that I’ve seen another defensive lineman come this close to making as many hits on the quarterback, but still, Hutchinson’s production has just been okay, not stellar.
Going into the 2021 season, Hutchinson is Michigan’s most important player. The team did not perform well at all last season once he got injured, and they were lifeless on defense. Nobody else seemed capable of putting pressure on the quarterback, and teams didn’t have to run away from anyone, either. It was open season on the entire Michigan defense. Hutchinson is an emotional leader on and off the field, which is supported by his naming as captain. Some prognosticators have him going in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, and while I don’t think he will have enough production to be an All-American, that’s not out of the question.
Prediction: Starting outside linebacker; 60 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 7 sacks