Pittsburg defensive tackle Aaron Donald, described by many as a perfect fit for defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli’s “quick twitch” undertackle, won’t be a Cowboy this year as the St. Louis Rams made him the 13th overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft.
One of the most coveted defensive lineman of this year’s class, Donald was a unanimous All American and Outland Trophy award winner and joins a Rams roster already deep with playmakers along the defensive line.
A four-year standout at Pittsburg, Donald turns 23 this month and plays the premium position in Marinelli’s 4-3 scheme: The undertackle – a 3-technique defensive tackle whose primary responsibility on every snap is to get into the backfield and wreak havoc.
“When you build this defense, this system, it starts with the undertackle,” Marinelli told a Chicago Bears reporter back when he joined the team in 2009. “You have to have the Mike, the Will, safety, you need a really good end. But (undertackle) is the motor that really gets this thing humming.”
Under tackles like Donald tend to shine in Marinelli’s system. Henry Melton was a Pro Bowler in Chicago in 2012; Jason Hatcher made his first Pro Bowl last year, the only season he played under Marinelli. Of course the standard bearer for undertackle in a Marinelli defense is four-time All Pro and Hall of Famer Warren Sapp.
Here are the top tackles remaining in this year’s draft:
Louis Nix, Notre Dame, 6’2”, 331 pounds
Timmy Jernigan, Florida State, 6’2”, 299 pounds
Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame, 6’6”, 304 pounds
RaShede Hageman, Minnesota, 6’6”, 310 pounds
Dominique Easley, Florida, 6’2”, 288 pounds