Aaron Donald DT Pittsburgh #87
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Size/Athleticism: Lacks the size of a typical interior lineman. Lacks the arm length to make up for his size and keep offensive linemen from getting into his pads. Elite quickness for the position. Has enough speed to make some plays in pursuit.
Run Defense: At his best when he’s able to shoot the gaps and disrupt the play in the backfield. Can get stacked fairly easily and is often shutdown at the point of attack, especially by double teams. Easily moved off his spot at the point of attack by more physically powerful linemen. Has the skills to disengage and makes plays in pursuit when the play is directed away from him. Shows good awareness and reacts quickly.
Pass Rush: Phenomenal first step and can slip into the backfield right off the snap simply by beating the offensive linemen to the gap. Capable of converting speed to power when linemen try to compensate for his speed with a deep set. Get get stonewalled by more physical offensive linemen, but he fights hard and does have the ability to shed blocks. Can be manipulated by savvy offensive linemen when why anticipate the gap he will try to exploit off the snap—he tries to win with pure speed so often, that when a lineman anticipates it, they can use that use that to their advantage and go with him, allowing his momentum to carry him outside.
Intangibles: Hard worker who was praised by coaching staff. Clearly gets the most out of his physical tools. Brother played linebacker at Toledo.
Durability: Missed one game with a knee injury in 2012.
Comments: Donald gets the most out of his small frame and works hard to do so, but how much more does he have to give? The biggest concern with Donald is that he’s already maxed out his potential. But even if he’s a what-you-see-is-what-you-get prospect, he has a future in the NFL. In the worst case scenario, he can be an effective situational interior pass-rusher and pulled on short-yardage plays in favor of a more stout run defender.