Now we’ve got the second, and final, Ram to make the list: DT Aaron Donald at #14.
A two-time Pro Bowler and the 2014 Defensive Rookie of the Year, Donald is the strongest individual talent on the roster going into 2016. He possesses a rare blend of speed, agility, tenacity and strength in an unusually diminutive package for a defensive tackle.
As it stands heading into 2016 (and obviously we can address this when we get to his installment in the 2016 Rams Roster Preview series): how to keep him a Ram for life and how high is the bar on his career.
As for the former, the Rams have cleaned up much of the front end of the salary cap in releasing DE Chris Long, MLB James Laurinaitis and TE Jared Cook back in mid-February. With DE Robert Quinn locked up through 2019, they now have to begin looking ahead to players like DT Michael Brockers and WR Tavon Austin as well as the duo who looks headed to big paydays in Donald and RB Todd Gurley. That being said, Rams fans might want to soft-bookmark recent deals to Marcell Dareus (details here), Fletcher Cox (details here) and Ndamukong Suh (details here).
On the career bar front, Darrius Heyward-Bey said it himself in the video..."Future Hall of Famer." It’s hard not to buy into that level of performance after Donald’s first two years. And with the neighboring talent commensurate of ranking the Rams’ DL #1 overall in the NFL, it’s hard to see how that trajectory changes for Donald.
Nonetheless, Los Angeles Rams DT Aaron Donald is the #14 best player in the NFL according to his peers. Here’s hoping he stays in the top 15 for years to come.