As I sat watching the NFL Combine I found myself wishing doom upon DT Aaron Donald. It’s not that I dislike Donald, but rather the complete opposite. I love the kid. I just didn’t want everyone else to fall in love like I did. Sadly, tragedy struck on Monday as Donald provided the performance of the day. Even better than Clowney in many peoples’ opinion.
He’s much more than a workout warrior – he’s the real deal. The 6’1” 285 lb tackle from Pittsburg is modestly sized for his position. Despite his physical stature, Donald still dominated in the college ranks. Fighting constant double teams he was able to post 11 sacks from the defensive tackle position.
While many highly-rated physically-imposing players like Hageman and Clowney disappear from time to time on film, Donald never takes plays off. He follows assignments and attacks the run as well. Many elite defensive linemen focus almost exclusively on sacks and QB pressures. Donald takes on the run with the same fervor he chases the QB, posting over 28 tackles for loss in 2013.
Despite his stellar 2013 season he still barely scratched the surface of the first round. It was clear his size was an issue as teams wondered if an undersized DT could continue that level of dominance at the NFL level.
Then came the Senior Bowl.
And then the NFL Combine.
In the two post season events Donald impressed coaches with his attitude, work ethic, and intelligence. When matched against the best of his peers in the Senior Bowl, he continued to find success. He can run like the wind and is an athletic freak of nature. At this point, Aaron Donald must be considered by all teams. He’s ideal as a 3-technique in a 4-3 but has the power and versatility to also play DE in a 3-4.
It will be interesting to see how far up he has moved but it’s very clear he has moved up substantially. Where we stand now, I would be surprised the Cowboys will even have the opportunity to draft him as he could be long gone by then.
But it’s a long way till May…
Do you have questions or comments regarding Dallas area sports? Email Reid at [email protected]. You may be included in the next weekly mailbag. Follow Reid on twitter @ReidDHanson