The Marty Smith Podcast: Aidan Hutchinson Talks NFL Draft, NIL Deals, Reaching His Full Potential, and More

by Chris Haney
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We’re back this week with another new episode of The Marty Smith Podcast, and college football and NFL fans are in luck. Marty’s special guest this week is University of Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson who many football analysts are predicting could be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

With the first round of the draft coming up on Thursday night, the guys talk to Hutchinson about about his life and football career. Hosts Marty Smith and Wes Blankenship chat with Hutchinson about the possibility of being the first player taken in this year’s draft. They talk about the 21-year-old’s draft process as he works out for teams and is analyzed in-depth by scouts. He speaks about reaching his full potential on the gridiron and wearing No. 97 in the NFL. The group also dives into what it’s been like playing for Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and how important it is to beat Ohio State.

Hutchinson opens up further about his college career in Ann Arbor, speaks about his future in the NFL, and more during their discussion. With the upcoming draft only a couple days away, football fans won’t want to miss the elite defensive end’s full conversation on this week’s The Marty Smith Podcast presented by Outsider.

Marty Smith Asks Aidan Hutchinson About His Preparation for the NFL Draft

The young men that make the leap from NCAA football to the NFL go through a rigorous process before teams select them in the draft. While everyone is under a microscope, none more so than a player who may have the distinction as the No. 1 overall pick like Aidan Hutchinson. However, as grueling as the process might be, Hutchinson has taken it stride.

Host Marty Smith immediately jumped into Hutchinson’s offseason experience leading up to the draft. The Michigan product said he grew up watching the NFL Combine where they evaluate elite players. Every aspect of a player’s athletic prowess is tested. Hutchinson spoke about training for the combine and then opened up about being nervous on the big day.

“Getting to that day, I was definitely a little more nervous than I thought I was going to be. You know, when you walk up to that 40-line, you’re like, ‘Dang, that looks a little longer than it does on TV.’ I was definitely a little more nervous for it than I thought,” Aidan Hutchinson admitted as the guys shared a laugh.

“But in the end, Pro Day and combine, they both went really smooth,” he added. “I prepped and I worked as hard as I could to get my best results. So I’m happy, I have no regrets, and I’m moving on now. My application is complete, so now we’re just moving on to the draft.”

Hutchinson says he has done everything he could to put himself in the best possible position for the draft on Thursday. Now, he’s just got to wait for his name to be called, and it shouldn’t take long at all. Don’t be surprised if his name is read aloud as the Jacksonville Jaguars make the first selection in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Hutchinson Talks Changing College Football Landscape and NIL Deals

In the last couple of years, the landscape of college football has changed significantly. Just in the last season alone, players can now earn endorsement deals. They have more control than ever over their name, image, and likeness (NIL) because of new rules. For a player of Aidan Hutchinson’s caliber, he could’ve made thousands, if not millions, during his years in Ann Arbor. However, the NIL deal didn’t officially kick in until this past season.

Hutchinson said he got a “taste of it” of it his senior year, but that it’s already “expanding and morphing.” The Michigan Wolverine amusingly told host Marty Smith that he now sees his former teammates posting their NIL deals and cars from sponsors.

“I see all my old teammates posting NIL deals and gettin’ their Camaros,” Aidan Hutchinson joked on The Marty Smith Podcast. “I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me??’ You even see these schools recruiting kids, because they can like technically give money to kids now. It’s legal with the whole NIL thing. It’s really a free agency in college now.”

The soon-to-be NFL pro says its a stark contrast compared to just a few years ago when he was a freshman. He said college football now has a “completely different vibe,” and that it’s “for the best.” Yet Hutchinson also shared that it’s going to take him time to get used to the new landscape of college football.

How Close Is Aidan Hutchinson to His Full Playing Potential?

As their conversation continued, the 6’6″, 265-lb. defensive linemen spoke about his growth as a player. He’s a dominant force on the gridiron and has plenty of teams salivating for his services. However, most analysts don’t think he’ll make it past the Jaguars who have the first overall pick.

Yet for someone with so much talent, host Marty Smith wanted to know how much better Hutchinson can get at this point. Smith straight up asked the young man if he has reached his full potential. His answer should scare opposing NFL offenses since he doesn’t think he’s anywhere close to unlocking his full potential quite yet.

“To be honest with you, Marty, I don’t even think I’m close,” Aidan Hutchinson answered. “I think I made a lot of strides in my game this past season, but I get so much better every single year. You know, I’m only 21 years old, so I really have a lot more room to grow. I just think I have way more potential to reach in terms of my football game. My plan is to unlock those levels once I get into the NFL.”

The guys talk to Aidan Hutchinson about that and much more on the newest episode of The Marty Smith Podcast. Make sure to check out their full conversation in the clip above, and listen to the full interview below or tune in on Spotify, Apple, or wherever else you listen to your favorite podcasts.

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