Aidan Hutchinson hasn’t been paying attention to the wild swings in the betting market that took him from odds-on favorite to be the No. 1 pick to significant underdog in the last week.
But his friends have made sure to keep him informed.
“It’s hard to ignore it,” the former Michigan star said just 24 hours before he learns his fate in the first round of the NFL draft. “My buddies are all into that, but I don’t know. If they pick me, great. If not, it is what it is. I’m not too invested in it.”
Jacksonville owns the first pick. The Jaguars are now favored to take Georgia star Travon Walker. Hutchinson has become a massive favorite to be the No. 2 pick of the Detroit Lions, who play just a short drive from Ann Arbor where Hutchinson honed his craft on the college level.
“I just hope wherever I go I will be in the best possible position to succeed,” he said in the shadow of the stage where the event will take place. “You want to look for the benefits in wherever you play, so I’m pretty cool with any team. I’m excited.
“I think I’m a complete player on and off the field. I think all the edge guys in this class, we all have the physical traits. All the top guys have everything on the field. Off the field, leadership and building a culture, that’s where I’m different.”
It’s been an exhausting few months for Hutchinson and the rest of the draft prospects. He’s excited to move on with his life, which he can do once he learns where he will begin his NFL career.
“I’m just trying to make it to tomorrow. Probably get some sleep tonight and wake up tomorrow feeling fresh,” he said, unsure of whether he’ll feel more excitement or relief once his name is called. “I think it will be both. Relief the process is over, but excitement for the future.”
Dressed to inspire
Former Oregon standout Kayvon Thibodeaux insists he didn’t put a whole lot of thought into his planned draft night attire, but still believes he will impress on the red carpet.
“It is drippy, I can say that,” he said. “I never put a lot of thought into it, but it always comes out the best.”
The most important part of his outfit will be a chain featuring a medallion that represents his charity, the JREAM Foundation. It stands for Journey to Readiness in Enrichment through Academic Mentorship.
The medallion features a kid reaching for the stars in black diamonds.
“The reason I did that is there are ceilings when you lack resources and opportunities,” he said. “For me, it’s about reaching for the stars. I want you to believe in what you can’t see.”
Speed is relative
Watching film of Notre Dame’s defense the last few years was like turning on a Kyle Hamilton highlight reel. The safety is in on just about every play as he roams sideline to sideline, flashing the ability that made him a projected top-five pick.
Then the stopwatch at the combine showed him to be a step or two slower than many teams would desire from a safety.
“Throughout the whole thing, everyone has their own opinions and they’re entitled to them,” he said Wednesday. “I’m also entitled to not really care. At the end of the day, I don’t really pay attention because I’ll be blessed to go wherever I end up. I’ll make a positive difference no matter the situation.
“I’ve been saying I guess I’m only fast when I have pads on. It’s one of those things hopefully I can look back on one day and laugh at like, ‘Damn, I was slow.’ But no, I’m excited to just go forward.”
Hamilton offered some words for prospects who go through the draft process in the future.
“One piece of advice and I pray whoever hears this follows it: Stay off social media,” he said. “It’s the most toxic thing you will ever see. People are just trying to get reactions. Just stay off it and your life will be so much better.”