Former Pitt standout Aaron Donald had a fantastic rookie campaign in 2014 with the St. Louis Rams that culminated with Donald winning the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award.
Donald built off that success and turned in an even better sophomore season with the Rams, one that was a historic season in fact.
He received the Daniel F. Reeves Memorial Award, which goes to the Rams’ Most Valuable Player, but Donald put together such an impressive 2015 season that should have him in the talks for the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Donald is headed to his second consecutive Pro Bowl after increasing his number of tackles (44), sacks (11) and quarterback hurries (37). Considering he was double and triple teamed all season and edge rusher Robert Quinn wasn’t healthy to take the load off Donald, those are very impressive numbers.
What is even more impressive is that Donald ended the season with a perfect 99.9 rating in Pro Football Focus’ rating system. It’s the highest grade they have ever given over a single season.
Donald should be in serious consideration for Defensive Player of the Year, but he likely won’t win it as Houston’s J.J. Watt will likely take home the honor.
Watt had more sacks on the season and is a more popular name than Donald, but consider the fact that Watt played about 65 percent of his snaps rushing from the edge and Donald played only three snaps all season coming from the edge. Naturally you are going to get more sacks coming from the edge, but that’s not to take away from Watt’s dominance during the season.
For Donald, it’s not only putting up double-digit sacks during his second NFL season, but he plays the run almost better than anyone in the league as the former Panther has become a true NFL run stopper.
It’s likely that Watt will get the recognition at season’s end, but I can’t think of an NFL defender more dominant than Donald.
If he doesn’t win it this year, it won’t be long before Donald has a Defensive Player of the Year trophy to add to his already crowded trophy case.
Photo Credit: St. Louis Rams