Rant Sports 2014 NFL Mock Draft: New York Giants Select Aaron Donald At No. 12

By Dan Schneier
Aaron Donald Pittsburgh
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

With the No. 12 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the New York Giants select defensive tackle Aaron Donald out of Pittsburgh.

The Giants have several needs they would like to address in the draft, but most people can agree that offensive line, defensive line, wide receiver, and safety are at the top of their priority list. I like to break down their needs into concepts. The three most important concepts the Giants need to address are as follows:

1.) Protecting Eli Manning 2.) Finding another pass rusher 3.) Finding a new “X” wide receiver and target inside the red zone.

The way this draft shook out, the only elite prospect remaining who could address one of those concepts was Donald. Don’t take that as a reason for pessimism for Donald, either. Aside from guessing about how his size might translate to the bigger offensive linemen at the pro level, there are very few negatives to take away from his production or measurables.

In three full-seasons as the starter, Donald racked up 181 total tackles, 115 solo tackles, 66 tackles for loss, 29.5 sacks, and six forced fumbles. These are the numbers of a truly elite defensive line prospect. When you look to his NFL Combine measurables to figure out the bigger picture, the numbers stay just as positive. Donald clocked the fastest forty-yard dash of any defensive tackle at the Combine when he ran a 4.68. He showed off his strength too, when he posted 35 bench press reps, the most of any defensive lineman. Lastly, he showed off his agility by finishing the 3-cone drill at 7.11, the third-best time of any defensive lineman.

If you watch him play, in any game, you will also notice his unbelievable quickness in the box. He caries a solid base and he is able to keep his balance, which helps him penetrate into the backfield. This makes him a perfect fit for the 4-3 defensive as a 3-technique defensive tackle.

The Giants have not had an elite pass rusher at three-technique defensive tackle in several years. Currently, the Giants are slated to start Cullen Jenkins at the three-tech defensive tackle spot. While Jenkins is a solid pass rusher who registered six sacks in 2013, his contributions against the run are a major part of what has made him a starter in the NFL. He does not posses that unique speed and quickness to penetrate and provide interior pressure, but Donald does.

Donald offers the Giants a versatile defensive lineman who can play in multiple positions and packages right away in 2013. On early run downs, they can kick Jenkins out to LDE and use Donald inside at the three-technique. In their traditionally used “NASCAR” package, they can feature both Donald and Jenkins on the inside. Also, Donald displays the skill-set to kick to defensive end on obvious run-downs. This is a draft pick that will pay immediate dividends for a team that is looking to win now.


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