“He worked to make himself a versatile end…Hutchinson is not just an edge rusher. He can plow a strong tackle back to the quarterback with Aaron Donald-like skill and force.” – King on Aidan Hutchinson
“I can rush with speed and power, but I think what separates me are my instincts. When I’m out there, I call it my ‘Spidey-sense.’ … There’s only a few guys that have it.” – Hutchinson
“I think if the committee – which is not unanimous that anything needs to be done with overtime – has a chance to change the rule, it’s playoffs-only.” – King on the NFL Competition Committee and overtime
STAMFORD, Conn. – March 7, 2022 – Peter King speaks top NFL Draft edge prospect Aidan Hutchinson (Michigan) from the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King also recaps conversations and buzz from around the Combine in Indianapolis, including speaking with Chargers head coach Brandon Staley and new Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels, and more.
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The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:
King on Michigan edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson: “My hunch is the Jaguars favor a spotless edge prospect over one of the tackles. Hutchinson flew home to Michigan on Sunday morning knowing he did nothing to hurt his cause…His performance at the combine put all eyes on him. And 52 days before the draft, the bullseye’s on him. Just the way he wants it to be.”
King on Hutchinson, who writes daily in a journal: “In the coming weeks, Jacksonville and Detroit and Houston and the Jets and Giants – the teams picking 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 in the draft – will poke and prod Hutchinson and his family and his world, as any smart teams should do when thinking of making a huge investment in a high first-round pick. They should start with his journals…He writes about school, friends, family, football, life, TV shows, everything. He still does. Almost every day.”
Hutchinson to King on his journals: “It’s very beneficial for my mind…This game is just as much mental as it is physical. I’m focused on maintaining that mental and keeping my head on straight…Put the pen to the paper, and just write and that kind of calms my mind a little bit.”
Hutchinson on what he tells himself in his journal entries: “I’d say a couple of them are just telling myself that I’m limitless. I have an infinite mindset. The power is within me. I hate when people put caps on myself and my ability. It’s something that people have done my whole career. I’ve never listened to them…I have no boundaries. There’s no mountain that I can’t reach. That’s how I view myself and me playing football.”
King on Hutchinson’s playing style: “He worked to make himself a versatile end. He wanted to be great at stopping the run, rushing the passer and being sure no one got around the edge on him. Watch this play against Ohio State. Hutchinson is not just an edge rusher. He can plow a strong tackle back to the quarterback with Aaron Donald-like skill and force.”
Hutchinson on what separates him from other prospects: “This class is frickin’ loaded with talent. I think the thing that separates me, I can rush with speed and power, but I think what separates me are my instincts. When I’m out there, I call it my ‘Spidey-sense.’ I’ll feel a play’s coming and then I, most of the time, I’ll trust it and I’ll make a play because of it. I think I just need to continue to keep trusting it because I think my instincts really do separate me and they’re what’s gonna separate me at that next level as well…In every rush, I have a game plan. Sometimes you gotta work a countermove. That’s where I believe I have that pass-rusher instinct. But there’s only a few guys that have it.”
King on Hutchinson in the draft: “I think the Jags prefer an edge player with an attitude over a tackle, but we’ll see. The Lions, same thing…It’s a good time to be Aidan Hutchinson, even in the midst of a great edge market. And whoever picks him will be getting a player and a person with other things in his life. It’s worked for Hutchinson so far.”
NEWS FROM 2022 NFL SCOUTING COMBINE & MORE
King on Kirk Herbstreit and Amazon: “I heard last night that Amazon…has settled on ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit to be the analyst on its Thursday night package of NFL games starting this fall…Herbstreit’s a pro, he’s a big name to legions of college football fans, he must really want to break the college-to-NFL glass ceiling, Amazon surely wanted to make a splash with this hire, and Herbstreit’s a non-status-quo guy. He’s different. It’s a little edgy, a little risky. All that, just my educated guess.”
King on the Combine’s future in Indianapolis: “Here’s my call: The combine stays one more year, at least, in central Indiana…There was a funereal tone of voice for everyone when discussing moving the combine. It’s a universally despised idea. No one has to get in a car here, and on long days, no trek longer than a 12-minute walk is crucial in time management. Anywhere else, it’s a commuter’s convention.”
King on Aaron Rodgers and the Packers: “I saw (Packers head coach) Matt LaFleur walk into a meeting with one of Rodgers’ reps in a room at the JW on Wednesday afternoon and stay for maybe 30 minutes. Lots of cloak-and-dagger here about Rodgers, of course…Whether to stay in Green Bay, ask for a trade or retire (one of the first two is more probable) likely will come in the next nine days, by the time the 2022 league year begins.”
King on Rodgers: “If Rodgers goes, I still think it’s to an AFC team. And as I wrote in December, Denver is most likely. The Broncos are most desperate and will pay the Packers a boatload of picks and at least one good player for the 38-year-old QB. And Rodgers would be reunited with his ex-offensive coordinator, new Denver coach Nathaniel Hackett.”
King on Kyler Murray: “The next few weeks should be interesting. Murray will be watching if the Cardinals reinforce the offensive line and more with young talent in free agency and the draft. Now this is important. Many, and I am part of this group, wonder why the Murray side should be so demanding when he declined at the end of last season and was awful in the playoff game against the Rams. Good question. That’s an issue each side is going to have to ponder as the Cardinals decide what to do about Murray’s disillusionment.”
King on Detroit defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn: “When I asked around about Black coach candidates to a few NFL GMs, I heard only one name out of three mouths: Detroit defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn…Glenn interviewed for the Saints’ head-coaching job, and GM Mickey Loomis told me he had a great one.”
Loomis to King on Glenn: “Aaron will be a head coach in our league.”
King on NFL overtime: “Not a lot done yet on the subject of overtime, which will be the hot-button issue when owners, coaches, GMs and executives meet for the league’s first post-Covid in-person spring owners meeting in Palm Beach, Fla., in three weeks. The committee won’t get down to the nitty-gritty of rules discussion till virtual meetings among the members begin next Monday.”
King: “It’s too early to tell whether any change in overtime has a good chance to pass. The overtime conundrum will be the biggest matter on the table at the league meetings…I think if the committee – which is not unanimous that anything needs to be done with overtime – has a chance to change the rule, it’s playoffs-only…at least as we sit here today.”
King on how the overtime change could impact teams: “I talked to several team people at the combine who think if both teams are assured of at least one possession, the coin-flip winner to start overtime will in most cases defer. The reason is simple: If the team with the ball first in overtime doesn’t score, or turns it over, the team with the ball second needs only a field goal to win.”
King on the offensive tackle prospects: “The offensive tackles will fall in some order like this: N.C. State’s (Ikem) Ekwonu and Alabama’s Evan Neal will duel for the top tackle. Ekwonu had a very good workout and Neal chose to let his Pro Day workout be his showcase…Ekwonu’s fascinating. He was accepted at Yale and Harvard, but chose N.C. State because Ivy League schools don’t offer athletic scholarships and, of course, N.C. State did. He was one of the most engaging players in his press availability at the draft.”
King on Oregon edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux: “Not the best week for a potentially difference-making edge player. (He thinks of himself as Jadeveon Clowney II.) Thibodeaux chose not to finish his combine drills…He came in with questions about taking plays off at Oregon, and he’ll be criticized for dropping out of the combine.”
Chargers head coach Brandon Staley to King on his decision-making and going for it on 4th-and-1 in Week 18 vs. the Raiders: “I felt like I was as good as anybody in the league in those situations because I had spent the whole offseason, I spent my whole life like getting ready for it. Our staff, we were connected on how we wanted to play. Our players, they knew how we wanted to play and we just were committed to doing this. I feel like how we played in that game was a reflection of how special we’re gonna be…I regret losing. But I don’t regret that decision.”
Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels to King on being in Indianapolis: “I understood when we made the decision, when I made the decision not to come to the Colts, that it would be unpopular. I also felt like it was the right thing to do for a number of reasons. I’d never really thought about it day to day, year to year: What if this happens? What if I never get another opportunity? I never stressed about that…If I never had the opportunity to be a head coach again, I would never look back on it and say, ‘Wow, my career was a failure’ or ‘We didn’t really enjoy our opportunities in the NFL.’”
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A new “Football Morning in America” posts every Monday morning exclusively on NBCSports.com through the NFL season. It was announced in May 2019 that King signed an exclusive agreement with NBC Sports Group that included writing a weekly Monday morning NFL column for NBCSports.com; making regular appearances on PFT Live with Mike Florio; and continuing to contribute to Football Night in America, the most-watched studio show in sports.