2014 NFL Combine Results: 10 Reasons Aaron Donald Is Now a 1st Round Pick
This offseason, one player that has really caught my attention is defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
After flying under the radar for most of the 2013 season, Donald finished his senior year with 59 tackles, 28.5 tackles for a loss and 11 sacks. He also cleaned house in the awards department by winning the Bednarik Award, the Lombardi Award, the Nagurski Trophy and the Outland Trophy, on top of earning All-American honors and being named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
I’m not too sure why Donald wasn’t a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, but I’ll save that for another day.
From the get go, many have doubted Donald because of his size, and at 6-feet, 288 pounds, it’s understandable; Donald simply doesn’t resemble the behemoths that come to mind when one thinks of the position that he plays.
However, Donald has not let his size limit what he does on the field, and it was on display, for everyone to see, at the Senior Bowl. Donald went in, and manhandled some of the best interior offensive linemen prospects, including All-American guard Cyril Richardson, on his way to being named the Most Outstanding Overall Player.
During the Senior Bowl, Donald got the chance to work closely with Mike Smith and the Atlanta Falcons’ coaching staff, and they all raved about the type of player that Donald is.
“Donald is a very explosive defensive tackle,” Smith said. “I’ve been very impressed with him.”
Following an impressive showing at the 2014 NFL Combine, I believe that Donald might have vaulted himself into the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, but don’t just take my word for it; here are 10 reasons why.
Aaron Donald – Pass Rushing Ability
Donald is a dynamic pass rusher, as his 29.5 collegiate sack total implies. He could easily be a Day-1 starter as a 3-technique defensive tackle in a 4-3 defensive scheme.
Aaron Donald – Explosiveness
Donald is a guy, who wins battles often by being the first guy off the ball and closing quickly on the ball.
Aaron Donald – Agility
Donald showed that he has great agility for a big man by posting a 7.11 time during the three-cone drill.
Aaron Donald – Strength
Donald has great upper body strength, as evident by his 35 reps of 225-pounds at the combine, but he also displays very good lower body strength when asked to defend the run.
Aaron Donald – Conditioning
One thing that scouts also look for when players are doing the bench press is endurance. Donald’s 35 reps, simply supplemented what everyone has seen on tape; this guy doesn’t get tired.
Aaron Donald – Speed
Donald’s official 40-yard dash time of 4.68 was the best out of any of the interior linemen prospects in the draft, and the fastest all-time by a defensive tackle, which was previously held by Tank Johnson (4.69). On tape, that speed really shows up when he closes on the ball.
Aaron Donald – Disruptiveness
Donald has a non-stop motor, and as I noted earlier, he does not wear down. He just keeps coming. He consistently uses his athleticism and strength to blow by defenders and makes tackles for loss. In fact, over his collegiate career he totaled 66 tackles for loss.
Aaron Donald – Experience
As a three-year starter, Donald developed a slew of moves to keep offensive linemen honest, and he’s also very good at shedding blocks while defending the run.
Aaron Donald – Character
Donald was a team captain in college, and I’ve yet to hear anything negative about him off of the field. He is tough and competitive, and, in my opinion, would be a great addition to an NFL locker room in terms of character.
Aaron Donald – Durability
What’s a player in the NFL if he isn’t durable? Luckily for Donald, durability has never been a problem, as he played in 51 games during his collegiate career; missing just one game due to injury.