ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — Detroit didn’t waste much time when it was on the clock.
The Lions nabbed Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson with the No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft on Thursday night, barely using his allotted five minutes to meet a desperate need with a star in the suburban hometown of Detroit.
Hutchinson set a single-season school record with 14 sacks for the Wolverines last season and was a runner-up for the Heisman Trophy. He is the highest drafted defensive player in Michigan history.
“I don’t feel a lot of pressure,” he said. “It’s great to be back home.”
Hutchinson hugged his parents and two sisters before hitting the stage in Las Vegas. His father, Chris, was Michigan captain and Big Ten defensive lineman of the year in 1992.
“It was so emotional even before the draft started,” Aidan Hutchinson said. “It was almost surreal.”
Detroit was also the 32nd pick in the first round with six other selections this week. The Lions seem to need more on defense than on offense with veteran quarterback Jared Goff surrounded by solid players on the line, tight end and running back.
Jacksonville took No. 1 overall Georgia defensive end Travon Walker, giving second-year general manager Brad Holmes a chance to sign the team’s best player on the board. Until recently, the Jaguars had to select Hutchinson.
“It seemed like things started to change a few days ago, but I’m grateful to be where I am,” he said.
The 6-foot-6, 265-pound pass thrower is relentless and fits the mold of players coveted by sophomore coach Dan Campbell. He drew comparisons to a pair of former Ohio State defensive ends, Nick and Joey Bosa.
The Lions can certainly use his help, slow down offenses and excite fans tired of their loss.
Detroit’s defense averaged just 1.8 sacks last year, ranking ahead of only Atlanta. The lack of a passing rush led the Lions to give up 5.9 yards per play and 27.5 points per game, two other categories in which they ranked 31st of 32 NFL teams.
The Lions drafted former Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell No. 7 overall last year and he helped the line become one of their strengths. With the No. 3 overall pick in 2020, Detroit drafted former Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah and he has been unsuccessful so far due to injuries.
The Lions lost their first eight games last season and went 0-2-1 the next three before finally winning a game under Campbell and finishing with three wins in the last six games.
Detroit’s rebuilding plan included trading quarterback Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams for Goff and those two first-round picks. The first was Hutchinson.
Ahead of her big moment, Hutchinson gave her mother, Melissa, a sweet surprise by gifting her a Leo Frost-designed necklace with a dog tag to honor her grandfather and World War II veteran.
“She was getting emotional earlier in the day,” he said. “It was cool to share this moment with her.”
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