Right off the bat I still cannot believe that this player, in my next Player Profile, only received four scholarship offers coming out of high school and NONE coming from the touted SEC. I’ll let that sink in for you for a second.
Coming out of the University of Pittsburgh and being selected by the Rams with the 13th overall pick in the 2014 draft, Donald silenced the critics at the NFL combine – running a 4.68 in the 40-yard dash and setting the defensive tackle record just edging out Tank Johnson. Simply put, this is an insane time for a defensive tackle. If you meet him in person, the first thing you notice is his size. At 6’1” and 285 pounds, he is rather small for a defensive tackle. The first thing I fell in love with, while I was watching him play at the University of Pittsburgh, was how he kept his pad level low and stayed low while shooting gaps on bigger offensive linemen. As a result, this translated well on the professional playing field very quickly, where he learned to use amazing hand violence to fight off would-be blockers.
The following two descriptive terms come to mind right away while watching this young man; “Penetration” and “Back Dooring” (Get your heads out of the freaking gutter!). The speed and penetration in which Donald uses to shoot gaps is utterly amazing. Now “back dooring” is a term Donald uses himself, in describing how he slips behind a would be blocker. Instead of going over the top of a moving blocker to get to the outside, Donald slips behind or under them. Undoubtedly, this technique is very risky for a linebacker, but is more manageable for a defensive lineman. In fact, I noticed an extraordinary example of these moves by watching him play in a week 7, 2015 home win over the Seattle Seahawks.
2015: Better than Watt?
Donald posted 11 sacks in 2015 (20 in two seasons) and took over the throne from Mr. Watt as the league’s most disruptive defensive lineman. He was credited with 79 total pressures and 51 defensive stops. I knew from the first time I watched him in college that this dude would be a stud in IDP formats. I took him way, way, way too early in our draft in his rookie year (I think he was my third round pick that year) but, I was not ashamed. He helped me make the bowl that year.
If your IDP league has to start a defensive tackle, then Aaron Donald is the top of the heap. He is also one of the only DT’s I would start in a league where you have to start 2 defensive linemen, if the value at defensive end is running out. In most IDP leagues, you draft DT’s and CB’s like you pick kickers for offense (with the slight edge going to rookie CB’s). Waiting until later in the draft is the best strategy to select DT’s, but with Donald and perhaps only one or two more DT’s, it would be worthwhile to make one of them your earlier selection. I see Donald only getting better every year, especially with the vast talent around him with the Rams. If Robert Quinn returns to his all-pro form and Michael Brockers can help take away the double teams, Donald’s stats are only headed up!
The Class Act
In the end the most impressive thing I really like about Aaron Donald is that he acts like he has been there before. He doesn’t talk smack and leads with action. He is just…the Silent KILLER!
Thank you for reading! If you have any dynasty/fantasy football or especially IDP questions, follow me on Twitter @FatAdamSchefter.