There wasn’t a more decorated and disruptive defensive lineman in college football last season than Aaron Donald. He did something not many high school players do: attend the university in his hometown and stay for four years.
Something else that sets Donald apart from his peers are the accolades he gained after his stellar senior season. He won four major awards: Outland Trophy (best interior lineman), Vince Lombardi Award (best lineman), Chuck Bednarik Award (defensive player of the year) and the Bronko Nagurski Award (defensive player of the year).
Donald was also recognized as an AP unanimous first-team All-American.
As of late, the Ravens defensive line has been among the strongest units on the team. But with the loss of Arthur Jones (Indianapolis) and Haloti Ngata posting his third straight season of statistical decline, the Ravens may want to think about drafting Donald.
Let’s see what the film tells us.
Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
- Height: 6’1″
- Weight: 285 pounds
- Bench reps of 225 pounds: 35
- 40-yard dash: 4.68 seconds
- 3 cone drill: 7.11 seconds
- Last season: 59 tackles, 28.5 tackles for loss, 11.0 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 3 passes defensed
Pros: Donald’s offensive disruption is Terrell Suggs-esque. Suggs recorded 31.5 tackles for loss in his senior season at Arizona State. Donald, in his senior season, recorded 28.5 tackles for loss.
Donald uses his hands tremendously to defeat blockers and penetrate into the backfield. He shows good lateral movement and pursuit down the line on stretch plays and roll-outs. He will get double-teamed often but stands his ground. He’s shown versatility using swim and spin moves and can get to the quarterback, either by way of bull rush or speed rush. On multiple occasions Donald got to the quarterback before the quarterback could complete the handoff.
Cons: He’s a bit small by NFL standards, evidenced by the fact that when offensive linemen engage him, he has trouble getting off blocks. If he doesn’t win with quickness, he struggles to shed the blocker. When the offense runs play action, he will get lost or over pursue at times. Also, he comes to the NFL after dominating the ACC, which is not a good football conference.
Why the Ravens would select him: Although they may have more pressing needs it’s hard for the Ravens to ignore the career Donald has put together thus far. He plays the kind of football Baltimore is known for. He’s a high-motor, high-character guy who loves the game.
If you watched the success the Bengals’ defense has had lately, you know a team can’t have enough defensive linemen. Adding Donald to the mix would continue to create match-up problems for opposing coaches.
Projected position with the Ravens: 3 technique (a defensive tackle that lines up on the outside shoulder of the guard). Donald could fill the void left by Jones, and as Jones did, Donald could occasionally slide out to defensive end in certain situations.