Donald Duck won the Academy Award for an animated short in 1942 for his portrayal of a Nazi factory worker in Der Fuehrer's Face.  Seriously.

Don’t Duck Donald: The Best NFL Draft Prospect of the Past Decade

           Aaron Donald is not a top 20 prospect on any draft pundit’s board.  BSPN has him ranked 25th.  CBS has him ranked 22nd.  NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks has him as the 4th best defensive tackle behind Notre Dame’s Louis Nix, Florida State’s Timmy Jernigan and Minnesota’s Ra’shede Hageman.  He’s probably not in the top twenty on any NFL team’s list either.  He’s not only the top prospect on our board, he’s one of the top prospects in the last decade.  We can already hear Thomas Dimitroff saying, “The Matriculator has Donald as the top prospect!” before rushing down the hall to adjust his draft board.

                Not many people have heard of Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins, but if NFL GM’s were starting a new team he’d be on everybody’s top ten list.  He’s a defensive tackle who has generated 26 sacks in the past three seasons.  There is nothing more devastating to an offense, or more important to a defense, than getting pressure up the middle.  Interior pressure is significantly more important than pressure off the edge.  It requires double teams, forcing offenses to single on both defensive ends or keep backs/tight ends in to pass protect.  Interior pressure allows teams to rush four and keep seven back in coverage.  There aren’t many who can do it on a consistent basis.  In fact, as far as “true” defensive tackles (we don’t include Sheldon Richardson and J.J. Watt who occasionally venture inside but are primarily edge players) there is exactly nobody in the NFL besides Geno Atkins who generates interior pressure.  The only two players before Atkins who did it on a consistent basis were Reggie White, who is the best defensive player we’ve ever seen, and Hall of Famer Warren Sapp.  There hasn’t been a player we would ever venture to compare to White, but Donald has the look of the next Warren Sapp.  If he stays healthy he will dominate and draw double teams on virtually every play.

                When we first started to scout Donald (who is undersized at 6’1”, 285) we expected he would be a specialist.  A gap penetrator who could play on passing downs but wouldn’t hold up against the run.  When we watched his tape, we thought it was a joke.  Nobody can be that dominant.  He’s the best player we’ve ever seen.  Are you ****ing kidding me?!  In the past two seasons if you compare him with Jadeveon Clowney…well there is no comparison.  Donald had 123 tackles to 94 for Clowney, 37 tackles for loss to 25 for Clowney, and 16.5 sacks to 16 for Clowney.  When you consider the position differential, Donald’s stats should be doubled.  There is absolutely no comparison between the two.  Donald’s career stats of 66 tackles for loss and 29.5 sacks are mind numbing.  But how did he do against the run?  Well if 122 tackles in the past two years isn’t enough, then watch him stand his ground against a double team.  He may be, pound for pound, the NFL’s strongest player when he takes the field for his first game.  If a team blocks him with one player there will be an awful lot of TFL in the box score the next day.

                When he arrived at the Combine over the weekend we expected to see something special and while Clowney generated all of the buzz, Donald was our star.  He ran an almost inhuman 4.65 and benched pressed 35 reps.  Not only did he test better than any defensive tackle in the history of the NFL, his technique and understanding of leverage is at the top of the NFL scale.  Mike Mayock was so impressed by his Combine performance that he gushed that Donald “is squarely in the first round discussion.”  Wow, great work again Mayock.

                We will understand if a team takes a Bridgewater or Manziel over Donald, the positional value argument, but if someone drafts Blake Bortles ahead of Donald they need to be fired on the spot.  There is an argument for Clowney because of his otherworldly athleticism.  If Clowney keeps his head on straight he should be great, but if anyone drafts a player not named Clowney, Bridgewater or Manziel, the owner of that team needs to contact Matriculator headquarters immediately.  Our number is 867-5309.

 

February 27, 2014