Detroit Lions dynamic first-year pass rusher Aidan Hutchinson has been named a finalist for Defensive Rookie of the Year, the NFL announced Wednesday morning. He joins New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner and Seattle cornerback Tariq Woolen as finalists for the award.
Hutchinson, the second overall pick in last year's NFL Draft, led all rookies with 9.5 sacks and was second with nine tackles for loss in 2022. He also became the first rookie defensive lineman to produce three interceptions in a season. His three picks tie for the most in team history by a defensive lineman and tie for second most in league history by a defensive lineman.
Hutchinson proved to be an athletic and versatile player in Detroit's defense. He finished with more quarterback pressures than another other rookie (53) and had the highest Pro Football Focus grade among all rookie edge players (80.7).
"He didn't just walk in the door and all of a sudden, all these great things happen," Lions head coach Dan Campbell said of Hutchinson. "I mean he goes into Washington, he has three sacks, and then it's expected that he'll have three sacks every week from then on, and that's just not the reality, but the fact is he was disruptive, and he's a football player, and he did improve. He did get better."
Hutchinson finished the year with a pretty impressive stat line of production with 52 tackles (34 solo), 9.5 sacks, nine tackles for loss, 15 QB hits, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
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Hutchinson isn't the only Lion up for an award this year. Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson was named a finalist for Assistant Coach of the Year. He guided a Lions' offense that threw for more than 4,000 yards and rushed for more than 2,000 yards for the first time in team history.
Detroit's offense finished the season fourth in total offense and fifth in points scored, and scored at least 30 points in eight games this season, the most in the NFL and a new team record.
Johnson was a hot name in the interview process in this year's head coach hiring cycle, but decided to return as offensive coordinator in Detroit in 2023.
"I think a ton of Ben," Campbell said. "I think he's - I've said it before, I just think he's extremely bright. He's creative, he's organized, he's a great communicator. I mean he's got it."
The winners of the awards will be revealed on Thursday, February 9 at the NFL Honors show on NBC starting at 9 p.m. ET.