Michigan football defensive line loses another starter to NFL draft in Christopher Hinton

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  • Chris Hinton
    American football player
  • Aidan Hutchinson
    American football player

Michigan football’s defensive line grew even thinner on Wednesday. Hours after star edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson made his departure for the NFL official, tackle Christopher Hinton also declared for the 2022 draft.

The move was somewhat surprising. He was credited with 17 pressures by Pro Football Focus, which ranked tied for 111th among defensive linemen. With Hinton following Hutchinson and David Ojabo into the draft, the only returning starter on Michigan's front four is nose tackle Mazi Smith.

The junior starter delivered the news via Twitter on Wednesday afternoon, with a statement thanking God and his teammates.

“To say it was an honor to play at the University of Michigan and to have the opportunity to play for the best fans in the nation, would be an understatement. The University of Michigan, the fans, the city of Ann Arbor are all amazing, and they will always have a special place in my heart.

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“Without my family’s undeniable love and support, none of this would be possible! Thank you for always being there for me, for always cheering me on, and for always beind my rock! I love all of you.

“Thank you to my teammates, you will forever be my brothers. We reached unbelievable heights this season, and I wll take our memories at The Big House and on the road with me for the rest of my life.

“Coach Harbaugh, Coach MacDonald, Coach Nua, and the entire Michigan coaching and support staff … thank you! Each and every one of you helped develop and guide me to be the student-athlete that I am today, and I am forever thankful for your guidance and support.

“With that and after a ton of thought and prayer, I am very excited to announce I am declaring for the 2022 NFL Draft.

“GO BIG BLUE!”

Hinton, 21, earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors in 2020 and 2021. The Georgia native had 32 tackles in 14 games for the Wolverines in 2021, including 18 solo tackles. He also had one sack, one tackle for loss and one quarterback hurry, along with one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.

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He was particularly dominant against Rutgers, picking up five solo tackles in the Wolverines’ 20-13 win.

That came after the 6-foot-4, 305-pound lineman put up 23 tackles and 2 ½ tackles for loss in his first two seasons combined.

Hinton is the son of former NFL offensive lineman Chris Hinton, a seven-time Pro Bowler with the Indianapolis Colts and Atlanta Falcons over 13 seasons from 1983-1995.

The elder Hinton was the No. 4 overall pick in 1983 out of Northwestern. His son likely won’t go that high, but he has late-round pro potential, especially if he can improve his pass rush skills.

Michigan also lost Ojabo to the NFL draft process on Tuesday, and defensive line coach Shawn Nua has reportedly accepted a job with Southern California.

Free Press sports writer Michael Cohen contributed to this report.

Contact Ryan Ford at rford@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @theford.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan football DL Christopher Hinton declares for NFL draft