Dec 26, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers defensive lineman Aaron Donald (97) during the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl against the Bowling Green Falcons at Ford Field. Pittsburgh Panthers defeated Bowling Green Falcons 30-27. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys Draft Prospect: Aaron Donald, High Risk, High Reward

Today I’ll be evaluating another defensive tackle prospect in the upcoming draft. Lately, I’ve been hearing Aaron Donald’s name come up frequently. Many fans were raving about him, so I decided to watch some videos of him. Needless to say, I understand why people are so high on him. I would really recommend you watch some videos of him, because he is an incredibly fun player to watch.

Aaron Donald is a miniature Ndamakong Suh. I can’t think of a better way to describe him. At 6-0, 285lb, he is significantly smaller than Suh, who is 6-4, 307lb. In terms of playstyle, both players are very similar. Donald is an incredibly disruptive force from the inside. He has an excellent burst off the line of scrimmage. In addition to this, Donald has a wide repertoire of pass rushing moves. He uses a spin, rip, swim, and bull rush. He’s very good at penetrating gaps and uses a stance that the great Joe Greene developed.  Donald lines up between the center and guard at an angle, when the ball is snapped he’ll burst between them. This is a great way to beat a double team, while getting penetration.

One downside of Donald is his size. He’s short for a defensive tackle. This is why I call him a miniature Ndamakong Suh. He’s disruptive like Suh, but he’s also a lot smaller than him too. Donald was dominant against college opponents, but will his size hold him back in the pros? In addition, his frame is pretty much maxed out. It doesn’t look like Donald can add much more weight on him. As a prospect, there isn’t much to develop with Donald. He isn’t very far from reaching his ceiling. The big question is will his size hinder him in the NFL?

Donald is truly a high risk high reward prospect. He is an incredibly disruptive player, and has rare quickness and explosiveness. His short stature is the only thing that’s stopping him from being a top-5 talent. Donald reminds me of John Randle. Both are short but explosive defensive tackles. I think Donald would be a perfect fit for Dallas. He is just the kind of defensive linemen that Marinelli wants in his system. Donald translates well to our scheme, but can he overcome his size? If he does, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with.

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  • Jimmy DeMarco

    His snap anticipation, burst off the ball and how he always seems to end up in the offenses backfield, whomever plays next to him, DT & DE, will both greatly benefit from having Donald there. If he can carry that into the next level, he will eventually command double teams even more than he faced at Pitt.

    I’m just wondering if having a similar player next to him, with speed, but maybe slightly taller, or having a more bull rush type, larger, space eater DT, would be better.

  • jrcowboy49

    This is the NFL where players have become bigger and faster. It is for the most part a big mans game. Arron Donald is too small and a risk Dallas can’t afford! Jerrah drafted a 5″ 11″ 190 lb CB after trading up for him in the 2012 draft, Morris Caliborne and he is not even the starter. He is probably a bust. 6’5″ WR are a factor!

  • SmartThinking

    Prototypical DT’s in the NFL are 6’3″-4″ and weigh better than 300 lbs. Typical NFL offensive tackles weigh 300-310+ lbs. and guards come in around 290-300 lbs. as well.

    Why give up the need for size on a bet? Just because he’s disruptive? There are lots of disruptive DT’s in the draft and they’re the right size/weight to compete evenly. This draft is too important to experiment with.

    The kid’s just too small to take a flyer on unless he can bulk up another 15-20 lbs. and keep his speed.

    • Old Frog

      Warren Sapp was 6’2″, 300 lbs., and ran a 4.7 40 at the combine. He was the 12th pick. That was 1995. Players are bigger and faster now. Donald had a good senior bowl but I think he’s too small and probably too slow for a middle first round pick.

  • Juanito Juanito

    Like he said, i will continue to prove why i won all that awards, i figth thru all my life