2014 NFL Draft Profile: Aaron Donald

Aaron Donald
Aaron Donald
Rich Barnes USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to argue that Aaron Donald did not enjoy the best college production of any defensive tackle prospect in this year’s draft class.

Donald recorded 59 tackles and sacked opposing quarterbacks 11 times at Pittsburgh this season, providing one of the most disruptive 3-techniques in the nation.

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The 6-foot, 281-pounder doesn’t overwhelm you with size, but has long arms and a strong lower body that generates a lot of power with a quick initial burst off the line. Scouts consider him to have elite hands — some even referring to them as “violent” — proving to be tough for offensive linemen to block him. He is also touted for commanding two blockers at a time, being a run-stuffer, and is also able to generate a pass rush from the interior of the defensive line.

Donald’s size is a bit of a concern, as his is ability to be a four-down lineman. Some scouts see Donald as more of a situational player, coming into the game in purely pass-rush situations.

Donald is ranked No. 32 by ESPN’s Todd McShay, fourth-rated defensive tackle behind Timmy Jernigan, Louis Nix III and Ra’Shede Hageman. Rotoworld considers him the No. 17 prospect, and the third-rated tackle behind Dominique Easley, Will Sutton, and the aforementioned Nix.

Donald should very much be on the Chicago Bears’ radar at No. 14. The Bears’ defensive line struggled mightily a season ago, and defensive tackle is the team’s greatest need entering the offseason. Depending on which tackle prospects are available and who fits best into Mel Tucker’s scheme are critical, but Donald could be the Bears’ current version of Tommie Harris.

The most glaring needs for the Dallas Cowboys are safety and defensive line, so with the No. 17 pick the team is all but sure to go after the best available prospect at one of those positions. Donald would be a steal for the ‘Boys if he slipped into the second round.

Donald may also wind up being coveted by the Seattle Seahawks. There is a high chance the team cannot agree to terms with impending free agent Michael Bennett, who will be in search of big-time money for a top-tier defensive lineman, as well as tackle Tony McDaniel. Donald could be the Hawks’ insurance policy if and when it loses Bennett or McDaniel, and could be a tremendous fit in the team’s rotation.

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Sam Spiegelman
Sam Spiegelman is a native New Yorker covering sports in New Orleans. He likes Game of Thrones way too much. Tweet him @samspiegs.