Aaron Donald, DT, University of Pittsburgh
Measurables: 6-1, 285 lbs
40-YD Dash: 4.68
Vertical Jump: 32"
Bleacher Report recently ranked the top 300 players in college football; Aaron Donald was #1. With 59 tackles and 11 sacks, Donald had one of the most productive years of any defensive player. He won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy which is awarded to the best defensive player in college football. Donald also won the Chuck Bednarik Award, Outland Trophy and Rotary Lombardi Award. There is no question that he is one of the most productive players in the 2014 NFL Draft, but there are questions regarding his size.
Size: In the last five years of the NFL Combine, the average weight for a Defensive Tackle was 304 pounds; Donald only weighs 285 pounds. Scouts are concerned that he will not physically match-up with the mammoth Offensive Lineman in the NFL. At only 6-1, Donald will not be tall enough to block many balls also. So if Donald is supposedly "to small", then why draft him?
Aaron Donald Highlights | 2013 Regular Season | PittLiveWire (via PittLiveWire)
Athleticism: At the NFL Combine, Aaron Donald ran a 4.68 40-YD Dash proving that he is one of the most athletic Defensive Lineman in the draft. To compare, Carlos Hyde and Jeremy Hill both ran a 4.66. His 40-YD Dash was the 5th best among Defensive Lineman (including Defensive Ends). While Donald is small, he is extremely strong. At the Combine, he posted 35 reps on the bench which was the 2nd best among Defensive Lineman.
Strengths: Aaron Donald's biggest strength is his quickness. He looks like a cannon ball coming out of his initial step. Donald uses his small height to his advantage as he often gains leverage from exploding underneath the shoulder pads of his opponents. His effort is tremendous as he never gives up on his pursuit. As his 11 sacks show, Donald is an elite pass rusher.
Aaron Donald Highlights against Georgia Tech:
Did You See That? | Aaron Donald vs Georgia Tech | PittLiveWire (via PittLiveWire)
Weakness: The biggest knock on Donald is his weight. At only 285 pounds, scouts are worried he might be dominated by larger Offensive Lineman in the NFL. His small frame creates a larger hole in the "a" gap of the running game. Where larger Defensive Tackles like Louis Nix III can just fill up holes with their huge body, Donald does not have that luxury and constantly has to work around blockers on run plays. He also has small arms which create less separation between him and his opponent making it harder for him to shed blockers.
Final Verdict: The Raiders currently hold the 5th overall pick and the 36th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Donald would be a reach at number five but will not be available in the 2nd round. Therefore, the Raiders would have to trade down in the draft to pick him up in the mid-1st round. The Raiders need pass rushers and a talent such as Donald would tremendously help. He has the speed and quickness to make an instant impact on the Raiders Defensive Line.
Pro Comparison: Geno Atkins