Aaron Donald impresses at the Senior Bowl

AP

In a year when the Senior Bowl is lacking in top-level talent, the best college player who chose to attend was Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who won the Outland Trophy as the best college lineman, the Lombardi Award as the best lineman or linebacker and the Bednarik and Nagurski awards as the best defensive player. The best college players don’t always turn out to be the best pro prospects, but at this year’s Senior Bowl, Donald looked like both.

Donald was selected as the most outstanding player during Senior Bowl practices, and Falcons coach Mike Smith, who is coaching the North team in the Senior Bowl, said Donald stood above the rest.

“Donald is a very explosive defensive tackle,” Smith said, via AL.com. “I’ve been very impressed with him. He’s short in stature by NFL standards and doesn’t maybe have all the measurables, but he’s one of the more explosive guys we have on the North squad. He’s done a very nice job both in the running and the pass game.”

Donald is only six feet tall and 288 pounds, so he’ll be one of the smallest defensive tackles in the NFL next season. But when you combine dominant play on the field in college with a great week of practice for the pro coaches and scouts in attendance at the Senior Bowl, production means more than size.

21 responses to “Aaron Donald impresses at the Senior Bowl

  1. That sounds exactly like what people were saying about Geno Atkins before the draft and before he slipped to the 4th round.

  2. McDonald’s size is very similar to Geno Atkins, wouldn’t surprise me if he went into the top 20… Also, don’t forget about Dee Ford. Yeah he’s a little small for a defensive end but that’s what they said about Elvis Dumervil. I can see Dee Ford being a late first round pick, maybe a team like Denver selects him…

  3. Probably played himself into the first round but I wouldn’t touch Donald because NFL offensive lineman are a different breed of competition then the he faced this week. I subscribe to the theory that big guys beat up little guys. Does he have the height to knock down passes or the arm length to trip up a powerful NFL running back darting through the hole? Does he have the stamina to go against guys who outweigh him by 50Lbs. for 16 games? IMO to much of a risk in the 1st round.

  4. Elvis Dumervil is 5′ 11″ and has done quite well in the pros. James Harrison is about 5’11” and he was DPOY. I do not pretend the Donald will be a LB but he can play. Donald will be a stud.

  5. Don’t know where Dee Ford is the 1st rd is coming from. All reports I have read have him 3-4 round. Hope this isn’t our 1st round pick.

  6. At that size, HD format fits perfectly in a Tampa 2 scheme. He will be drafted by Tampa Bay or Chicago…mark my words. His skill set is very similar to Chicago DT Henry Melton.

  7. John Randle was small for a modern day Do, he went undrained in part due to his size. If I remember correctly he had a pretty good career. Although I don’t think he ever caught that chicken he was chasing in commercials.

  8. Stop looking at this guy like he is only going to be a pass rushing DT or something. Kyle Williams is the perfect example. 6’1″ 303, now. I think he was like 290 or something when he was drafted in ’06, 5th round, after the Bills took John McCargo in the 1st. KW is a stud DL and can play all along the D-front, this guy will probably pan out the same if his work ethic is half of Kyle’s. As much as I hate the Steelers… he has been in the Pitt area for a while, so maybe he has that steel city “Lunch Box” mentality too, best thing you can ask for from a lineman.

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