Not too many players, if any, wearing pads at the collegiate level can say they had a better calendar year than that of Pittsburgh Panthers’ defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
Donald’s outstanding 2013-14 year culminated Thursday night when he was drafted No. 13 overall by the St. Louis Rams .
The Penn Hills native became not only the first Pitt player selected in the NFL Draft since 2011 tonight and the Panthers’ first first-round selection since Jonathan Baldwin, also in 2011, but became Pitt’s highest draft pick since Larry Fitzgerald went third overall in 2004.
Donald was the top defensive tackle on every draft board coming into Thursday and is going into a pretty good situation where he can help the Rams right away.
In 51 career games as a Panther, Donald recorded 181 tackles, 66 of which were for loss, and recorded 29.5 career sacks, while being one of the most disruptive defensive linemen in all of the nation.
Donald’s collegiate resume speaks for itself, recording several honors that included but weren’t limited to:
- Unanimous All-American (2013)
- Outland Trophy (2013)
- Bronko Nagurski Trophy (2013)
- Rotary Lombardi Award (2013)
- Chuck Bednarik Award (2013)
- ACC Defensive Player of the Year (2013)
- First-team All-ACC (2013)
- CBSSports.com Defensive Player of the Year (2013)
- First Team All-BIG-EAST (2012)
- Second Team All-BIG-EAST (2011)
He also had an outstanding Senior Bowl that saw him rise up draft boards despite being undersized. Donald also showed up well at the NFL Combine, running the forty-yard-dash with an official time of 4.68 seconds, setting the record for fastest time for a defensive tackle.
Donald has a chance to be a great NFL pro as he is lightning quick off the snap and plays with great leverage. He is explosive in short areas and gets under blockers pads and into gaps, making him highly disruptive when penetrating into the backfield.
Two things are for sure.
One is that is Donald will be missed a great deal at Pitt.
The other is that the Rams are getting one heck of a football player.