Who are Michigan’s next NFL draft prospects? An early look at 2022

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The 2021 NFL Draft is in the books, with Michigan continuing its streak of pro prospects.

The Wolverines didn’t hit the double-digit like last year, but had players selected by pro franchises between Thursday and Saturday. Of course, the list was highlighted by defensive end Kwity Paye taken by the Indianapolis Colts in the first round, pick No. 21 overall. You can find the full list at mlive.com/wolverines, along with the two free-agent signings.

But let’s look ahead to 2022, Michigan’s top prospects at the moment and who might be eligible.

TOP PROSPECTS

DE Aidan Hutchinson

The Plymouth, Mich., native could be one of Michigan’s highest-graded prospects by the time the 2022 draft comes around. A lot will have to do with his size and the position he plays — Hutchinson is listed at 6-foot-6 and 269 pounds, slightly bigger than Kwity Paye (if accurate), and lines up on the edge. While Hutchinson was limited in 2020, he was disruptive as a sophomore in 2019 — registering 68 tackles (10 for a loss), 4 1/2 sacks, six pass deflections and two forced fumbles. If there wasn’t a shortened season in 2020, and Hutchinson had suffered a season-ending ankle surgery, it’s likely he would have left for the NFL draft this year. We’ll see if he experiences any lasting effects from the injury, a serious one for player his caliber. Also of note, Hutchinson could be utilized a bit differently in Michigan’s new defensive scheme under first-year coordinator Mike Macdonald. Whether that helps or hinders his production remains to be seen, but could be a good thing for his NFL draft prospects. Remember, the knock against Paye this year was that Michigan under-utilized and failed to let him loose.

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