Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson, MSU’s Kenneth Walker III headline local NFL combine invites

Detroit Free Press

Aidan Hutchinson is the potential No. 1 pick in April’s NFL draft, and the Michigan pass rusher leads a group of 15 players from Michigan state universities invited to the NFL combine Feb. 28-March 7.

The NFL on Wednesday announced its list of 324 invitees for the 2022 scouting combine in Indianapolis, and eight members of the Wolverines were included. The only schools whose players received more invites were Georgia (14), Alabama (11), Oklahoma (11), LSU (9) and Texas A&M (9).

Michigan, Arizona State, Cincinnati, Ole Miss and Penn State tied with eight each.

Hutchinson is one of eight players from Michigan’s College Football Playoff team who will take part in the event, and one of three potential first-rounders.

Hutchinson this season had 14 sacks (tied for third in Division I) and 74 pressures (tied for third) to finish as runner up in the Heisman Trophy voting after already capturing a slew of postseason awards.

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His running mate, David Ojabo, rose from obscurity to prominence thanks in large part to remarkable athletic ability and a nose for the football. Ojabo played only 26 snaps in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season but seized his opportunity in 2021 to become a starter opposite Hutchinson. He finished the year with 11 sacks (tied for fifth nationally) and five forced fumbles (tied for third). His run defense and pass coverage left plenty to be desired, but Ojabo’s raw physical traits make him an intriguing option.

The other potential first-round pick is defensive back Daxton Hill, who played the nickel role for former defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald. His positional versatility could make him the ideal NFL chess piece for coordinators willing to move him around in the secondary. Macdonald told reporters he believed Hill had a large enough skill set to play corner, nickel or safety in the NFL.

Central Michigan offensive tackle Bernhard Raimann could hear his name called in the first 32 picks. He is one of two CMU players invited to the combine, along with fellow offensive lineman Luke Goedeke.

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Kenneth Walker III, expected to be one of the first running backs drafted, is one of three Michigan State players (Connor Heyward, Jalen Nailor) invited to the combine. The Walter Camp national player of the year and Doak Walker Award winner, Walker rushed for 1,614 rushing yards — 134.5 yards per game — and 18 touchdowns. He was among the nation’s leaders in rushing yards after contact (1,154), carries of 20-or-more yards (21) and missed forced tackles (89).

Western Michigan earned two combine invites.

Several other players with state ties will take part in the combine and could be high draft picks, including Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner (Detroit King) and Kentucky nose tackle Marquan McCall (Oak Park).

Here is a list of local players invited to the combine:


Vincent Gray, DB

Hassan Haskins, RB

Dax Hill, DB

Chris Hinton, DL

Aidan Hutchinson, DL

David Ojabo, DL

Josh Ross, LB

Andrew Stueber, OL

Michigan State

Connor Heyward, TE

Jalen Nailor, WR

Kenneth Walker III, RB

Central Michigan

Luke Goedeke, OL

Bernhard Raimann, OL

Western Michigan

Kaleb Eleby, QB

Skyy Moore, WR


Ahmad Gardner, DB, Cincinnati (Detroit King)

Marquan McCall, NT, Kentucky (Oak Park)

Eyioma Uwazurike, DL, Iowa State (Southfield-Lathrup)

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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