Aaron Donald

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Aaron Donald
refer to caption
Donald with the Rams in 2015
No. 99 – Los Angeles Rams
Position:Defensive tackle
Personal information
Born: (1991-05-23) May 23, 1991 (age 27)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Height:6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight:285 lb (129 kg)
Career information
High school:Penn Hills
(Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
College:Pittsburgh
NFL Draft:2014 / Round: 1 / Pick: 13
Career history
Roster status:Active
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of Week 17, 2018
Total tackles:264
Sacks:59.5
Forced fumbles:13
Fumble recoveries:4
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR

Aaron Charles Donald (born May 23, 1991) is an American football defensive tackle[1] of the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Pittsburgh, where he was recognized as a unanimous All-American. He was drafted by the Rams in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He has been selected to five Pro Bowls, won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and has been named twice as the AP Defensive Player of the Year, having won the award back-to-back in 2017 and 2018. Donald is known for his prodigious physical strength and is ranked as one of the top defensive players in the NFL.[2]

Early life[edit]

A native of Pittsburgh, Donald grew up as one of three children in a working-class family in the city's Lincoln–Lemington–Belmar neighborhood. His father Archie, whose football career ended due to a patellar fracture suffered while playing at Norfolk State, introduced Aaron to strength training when he was 12, seeking to provide more structure in his son's life. Aaron himself would later admit that he was "lazy as a kid". By age 14, he and his father woke up at 4:30 am and almost immediately proceeded to work out for nearly two hours in the basement gym that Archie installed in the family home.[3]

Donald attended Penn Hills High School, where he played high school football for head coach Ron Graham.[4] He was selected first team All-State Class AAAA in each of his final two seasons, and compiled 63 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, and 11 sacks as a senior. He also started at offensive guard.

Considered a three-star prospect by Rivals.com, he was rated as the 37th best defensive tackle in the nation.[5] He committed to hometown Pittsburgh over other scholarship offers from Toledo, Akron, and Rutgers.[6][7]

College career[edit]

As a true freshman, Donald played in all 13 games as a reserve defensive end. He recorded 11 tackles, including three for loss, and two sacks.[8] In 2011, as a sophomore, Donald moved into the starting lineup, and turned in a breakout campaign. He recorded 47 tackles, including 16 for loss, 11 sacks and one forced fumble, and was named a second-team All-Big East selection.[9] As a junior, he recorded 64 tackles, including 18.5 for loss, 5.5 sacks, and one forced fumble, earning first-team All-Big East honors.[10] In his senior season, he became one of the most productive defensive players in the entire NCAA. He posted 59 tackles, including a career best 28.5 for loss, 11 sacks, and four forced fumbles. He was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year and was a unanimous All-American.[11][12]

College statistics[edit]

Aaron Donald Defense
Year Team GP Tackles For Loss Sacks Int FF
2010 Pittsburgh 13 11 3.0 2.0 0 0
2011 Pittsburgh 13 47 16.0 11.0 0 1
2012 Pittsburgh 13 64 18.5 5.5 0 1
2013 Pittsburgh 13 59 28.5 11.0 0 4
Total 52 181 66.0 29.5 0 6

Awards and honors[edit]

Professional career[edit]

Aaron Donald at the 2014 NFL Combine.

At the NFL Combine, Donald set the record for fastest 40-yard dash time for a defensive tackle with a 4.68. The record previously held by Tank Johnson, who ran a 4.69 in 2004. He drew comparisons to John Randle afterwards.[17]

Pre-draft measurables
Ht Wt Arm length Hand size 40-yard dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert jump Broad BP
6 ft 0 34 in
(1.85 m)
285 lb
(129 kg)
32 58 in
(0.83 m)
9 78 in
(0.25 m)
4.68 s 1.59 s 3.21 s 4.39 s 7.11 s 32 in
(0.81 m)
9 ft 8 in
(2.95 m)
35 reps
All values from NFL Combine[18]

2014 season: Rookie year[edit]

Donald was drafted in the first round with the 13th overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams.[19] On June 16, 2014, the St. Louis Rams signed Donald to a four-year, $10.13 million rookie contract that is fully guaranteed. The contract also included a $5.69 million signing bonus and a fifth-year option.[20]

On September 7, 2014, Donald made his NFL debut against the Minnesota Vikings and finished the 34–6 loss with four tackles.[21] The following week, he recorded three tackles and his first NFL sack during a 19–17 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.[22] On October 13, 2014, he was given his first career start against the San Francisco 49ers and finished the game with four solo tackles.[23] After recording 47 tackles, nine sacks, and two forced fumbles, Donald was one of five rookies selected to the 2015 Pro Bowl.[24][25] He won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award and was named to the NFL All-Rookie Team.[26][27]

2015 season[edit]

In 2015, Donald began the season as the Rams' starting defensive tackle. During the season opener against the Seattle Seahawks, he recorded a career-high nine total tackles and two sacks, helping the Rams win 34–31 in overtime.[28] He was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for the first time in his professional career for his performance against the Seahawks.[29] On December 13, 2015, Donald made five tackles and a career-high three sacks against the Detroit Lions in Week 14.[30][31] He earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week for the second time in the 2015 season after his performance against the Lions.[32]

Donald started all 16 games and ended the season with 69 tackles, 11 sacks, a pass defended, and a fumble recovery.[33] He earned a First Team All-Pro nomination for the first time in his professional career.[34] He was a Pro Bowl selection for the second consecutive season.[35] He was ranked 14th by his fellow players on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2016.[36]

2016 season[edit]

Aaron Donald leaves a game after being ejected

On September 12, 2016, Donald was ejected for making illegal contact with a referee in a 28–0 shutout loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football.[37][38] On September 16, 2016, he was fined $21,269 for unnecessary roughness ($9,115) and unsportsmanlike conduct ($12,154).[39] In Week 4, in the 17–13 victory over the Arizona Cardinals, he had 1.5 sacks, five total tackles, one tackle-for-loss, five quarterback hits, and one forced fumble.[40] He earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week for the third time in his career after his performance against the Cardinals.[41] On October 21, 2016, he was fined $18,231 for an unsportsmanlike conduct after committing the penalty during a game against the Detroit Lions.[20] Donald was named to his third straight Pro Bowl and his second First-team All-Pro.[42] He was also ranked 15th on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2017.[43]

2017 season: Defensive Player of the Year[edit]

On April 12, 2017, the Rams exercised the fifth-year option on Donald's contract.[44] He did not report to the Rams' 2017 training camp and preseason due to a contract extension dispute. He accumulated about $1.4 million in fines due to his non-participation, and each game that he missed cost him one game check from his base salary of $1.8 million.[45] On September 9, 2017, Donald reported to the Rams and passed his physical, however he did not play in the team's Week 1 game against the Indianapolis Colts the next day.[46] On December 19, 2017, Donald was named to his fourth straight Pro Bowl.[47] He was also later named a first-team All-Pro for the third time.[48] He finished the 2017 season with 41 tackles, 11 sacks, and five forced fumbles.[49] After a stellar 2017 season, Donald was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year.[50] He was ranked #7 by his peers on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2018.[51]

2018 season: Super Bowl appearance[edit]

On August 31, 2018, after holding out all offseason, Donald signed a six-year, $135 million contract extension with $87 million guaranteed.[52] The deal made him the highest paid defensive player in NFL history, although less than 24 hours later, Khalil Mack signed a $141 million contract with the Chicago Bears after being traded from the Oakland Raiders.[53]

In Week 7 against the San Francisco 49ers, Donald recorded a career-high four sacks on quarterback C. J. Beathard, along with nine tackles, 6 for a loss, and five quarterback hits in a 39–10 win, earning him NFC Defensive Player of the Week for the fourth time in his career.[54] Donald was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for the month of October after recording eight sacks, 17 tackles, and a forced fumble.[55] In Week 16, Donald recorded seven tackles (four for a loss) and three sacks in a 31–9 win over the Arizona Cardinals, earning him NFC Defensive Player of the Week.[56] His three sacks brought his season total to 19.5, which broke the record for most sacks in a season by a defensive tackle, previously held by Keith Millard with 18.0.[57] Donald added another sack in Week 17 against the San Francisco 49ers and finished with a league-leading total of 20.5.[58][59] Donald was named NFC Defensive Player of the Month for December, his second such award in the season.[60]

On January 4, 2019, he was named to the AP All-Pro First Team, being the only unanimous selection.[61] On February 2, 2019, Donald was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year.[62] Donald joined Lawrence Taylor and J.J. Watt as the only players who have won the award in consecutive seasons.[63] Donald helped the Rams reach Super Bowl LIII after defeating the Dallas Cowboys in the Divisional Round and the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship.[64][65] In the Super Bowl, Donald recorded five tackles but the Rams lost 13–3 to the New England Patriots.[66]

Awards[edit]

NFL statistics[edit]

Legend
Led the league
NFL Defensive Player of the Year
Bold Career high

Regular season[edit]

Year Team Games Tackles Interceptions Fumbles
GP GS Comb Total Ast Sck TFL PD Int Yds Avg Lng TD FF FR
2014 STL 16 12 48 38 10 9.0 18 1 0.0 2 0
2015 STL 16 16 69 43 26 11.0 22 1 0.0 0 1
2016 LAR 16 16 47 35 12 8.0 17 5 0.0 2 0
2017 LAR 14 14 41 32 9 11.0 15 1 0.0 5 1
2018 LAR 16 16 59 41 18 20.5 25 1 0.0 4 2
Career 78 74 264 189 75 59.5 97 9 0 0 0.0 0 0 13 4

Postseason[edit]

Year Team Games Tackles Interceptions Fumbles
GP GS Comb Total Ast Sck TFL PD Int Yds Avg Lng TD FF FR
2017 LAR 1 1 5 4 1 0.5 1 1 0.0
2018 LAR 2 2 4 4 0 0.0 3 0.0
Career 3 3 9 8 1 0.5 4 9 0 0 0.0 0 0 0 0

Personal life[edit]

Donald's older brother Archie Jr. had a less successful football career; the latter was a star linebacker at Toledo who, according to ESPN writer Alden Gonzalez, "bounced around the NFL as an undrafted free agent until retiring in 2012." The brothers, who shared bunk beds in their childhood, frequently thought about one day helping their parents retire, which according to Gonzalez became one of the driving forces in Aaron's career. When Aaron was named Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2014, he bought his father a used truck; four years later, he bought his father a $40,000 Rolex watch as a birthday present. A few weeks after he signed his most recent contract extension, he set up both of his parents (who by that time had divorced) with retirement funds sufficient to allow both to permanently stop working, plus brand-new homes of their choosing. His father's new home was in Penn Hills, near Aaron's old high school. However, at Aaron's and Archie Jr.'s insistence, Archie Sr. never sold his old home. All three still occasionally return to their old basement gym for offseason workouts.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Aaron Donald Player Profile".
  2. ^ https://theramswire.usatoday.com/2018/06/26/nfl-los-angeles-rams-ranking-top-100-players-quotes-video/
  3. ^ a b Gonzalez, Alden (January 12, 2019). "How Rams DT Aaron Donald became the NFL's most unstoppable force". ESPN.com. Retrieved January 12, 2019.
  4. ^ "Penn Hills cherishes Aaron Donald as he prepares for Super Bowl debut". triblive.com. Retrieved February 11, 2019. Text " TribLIVE " ignored (help)
  5. ^ "Aaron Donald - Rivals.com". rivals.yahoo.com.
  6. ^ "Aaron Donald Recruit Interests". 247sports.com. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  7. ^ "Dave Wannstedt and Pitt didn't know what they had in Aaron Donald. Then camp began". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  8. ^ "Aaron Donald 2010 Game Log". College Football at Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  9. ^ "Aaron Donald 2011 Game Log". College Football at Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  10. ^ "Aaron Donald 2012 Game Log". College Football at Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  11. ^ "Aaron Donald 2013 Game Log". College Football at Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  12. ^ "The Official Athletic Site of the University of Pittsburgh". www.pittsburghpanthers.com.
  13. ^ "Pitt's Aaron Donald named winner of Lombardi Award". www.nfl.com. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  14. ^ "Aaron Donald wins Nagurski Award". ESPN.com. December 10, 2013. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  15. ^ "Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald wins Chuck Bednarik Award to cap big week". lehighvalleylive.com. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
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  55. ^ Shook, Nick (November 1, 2018). "Todd Gurley, James Conner lead players of October". NFL.com.
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  62. ^ "Rams' Aaron Donald wins second straight Defensive Player of Year". ESPN. February 2, 2019. Retrieved February 2, 2019.
  63. ^ "Aaron Donald joins Taylor, Watt as only back-to-back Defensive Players of the Year". FOX Sports. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
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External links[edit]