The recently retired defensive end Chris Long was in his seventh season with the Rams when they drafted Aaron Donald in 2014. He knew as soon as they started practicing together just how great Donald would be.
Long told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that seeing Donald’s combination of talent and hard work at the first training camp of his career was an eye-opening experience.
“We used to joke his rookie camp that he was going to be in the Hall of Fame, but I kind of wasn’t joking,” Long said.
Donald’s physical talents were obvious, but Long said Donald’s mental approach to the game was equally impressive.
“I’ve never seen anybody work so hard, who had so much talent and play so violent and play with such tenacity,” he said. “This guy would fight you on the field at the drop of a hat, and I respect that about him, and outworks everybody. I would be the last person in the film room usually at the end of camp, and I would go in there and watch tape once everybody was at home. I started going in there an opening the door and turning the lights on to find my pen or notebook, and he was in there every night.”
Long saw a lot during his 11-year career, but Donald was unique.