Aaron Donald is a defensive lineman for the Los Angeles Rams who is a once in a generation player. He is currently in his fifth NFL season.
Donald has emerged as a top player in a league which favors offensive players. Each year NFL players are asked to vote on the top players in the league and a list is released called the top 100. Donald has been included in this list of prestigious players 4 times. In each year he has steadily improved and shows no signs of slowing down. His highest ranking came after the 2017-2018 season when Donald was ranked 7th. According to the list, the skill gap between Donald and the next closet defensive tackle is very large with the next closet at number 63. In this same season Donald was also given the title of Defensive Player of the Year. The last interior defensive lineman to win the title of Defensive Player of the Year was Warren Sapp 18 years ago. This award has only been given to an interior defensive lineman one other time. Long time defensive coordinator and current defensive coordinator for the Rams believes that the accolades shouldn’t have stopped there. Philips was “thinking more like Most Valuable Player in the league.”
Jason Kelce, all pro center for the Philidelphia Eagles, believes that “the best guys have it all. Aaron Donald is one of those guys who has ever aspect. He’s explosive, he’s competitive, he’s given effort every single play, and he’s powerful” with “no weaknesses.” Andrew Witworth, tackle for Rams, believes “he can do everything.” Defensive players also have taken notice to the dominance of Aaron Donald. Michael Bennett, defensive lineman for Seahawks, says Donald is a “He can do anything, I think, when you watch him play the game you’re just like did he really just do that. The guys just a beast what more can you say.” Donald told Myles Simmons, Rams insider, he has “continue to find ways to get yourself better.”
Donald has changed the game as an interior defensive player. He is the shortest player at his position and does not have the desired weight of a defensive lineman in the NFL. Dion Lewis, running back for the Titans, recognizes this difference also, “Some of the stuff he does to those centers and guards in this league is ridiculous, it’s like going against little kids. He’s 30 pounds lighter than those guys just throwing them around and making people look silly.” What Donald lacks in height and weight he makes up for in strength and speed. In the 2014 NFL scouting combine Donald ran a 4.68 second 40 yard dash, one of the best times ever recorded by a defensive tackle. He also ranks in the 92nd percentile in his position with 35 reps on bench press and 96thpercentile in the broad jump and three cone drill. Donald is a top player in the league who is only going to get better in the future.