So far this offseason there has been a lot of attention on Matthew Stafford. Last year, the spotlight was on Jalen Ramsey and if the LA Rams would be able to reach an extension with him before the season. With so much going on with the Rams franchise in the last five years alone, from moving to LA to hiring Sean McVay to adding veteran stars like you’re popping Rolos (I just had some Rolos), it can be possible to overlook the NFL’s most dominant player.
And that player is not Patrick Mahomes.
Because nobody has dominated a position like Aaron Donald has dominated TWO positions since the year he was drafted: Defensive Tackle and Designated Pass Rusher.
Aaron Donald leads the NFL in sacks since he was drafted in 2014
Though Donald was part of an historic draft class of pass rushers that included Khalil Mack, Jadeveon Clowney, DeMarcus Lawrence, and Dee Ford, none of those players have come close to the sack production of Donald.
Neither has any other pass rusher in the NFL in the last seven seasons.
Since being drafted, Aaron Donald has 30 more tackles for a loss than second place Cam Jordan. He has over 50 more TFL than second-place DT Ndamukong Suh and MORE THAN DOUBLE the third-ranked defensive tackle.— TurfShowTimes (@TurfShowTimes) September 10, 2021
Donald’s 85.5 career sacks ranks first in the NFL over the last seven seasons and is 15 more than Mack in the same number of games.
Overall, Donald’s 85.5 sacks since 2014 is six more than second-place Chandler Jones (79.5 with the Patriots and Cardinals), and it is 12.5 more than third-place Cam Jordan. Justin Houston, Von Miller, and Ryan Kerrigan are next on the list with 71 sacks since 2014.
Aaron Donald has 201 QB hits in the last 7 years
Pro-Football-Reference defines QB hits as “when the QB hits the ground after a throw, not marked on a sack play.” And nobody has done that more times since 2014 than Aaron Donald.
Donald’s 201 career QB hits is 27 more than second-place J.J. Watt (who remarkably has played in 30 fewer games than Donald in that period of time) and 32 more than third-place Carlos Dunlap in only one fewer game.
QB hits is a stat that goes back to 2006 and Donald’s 201 career QB hits already ranks eighth all-time. He averages 28.7 QB hits per season and is 28 behind passing Jared Allen for fourth all-time and 29 behind passing DeMarcus Ware for third. However, he’s also behind Von Miller and Calais Campbell, who remain active and productive, but only slightly.
Aaron Donald has the most sacks since 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018
The fact that Donald is also second since 2019 and since last year is just as remarkable. He also has the second-most since the year before he was drafted. Donald’s consistency as a pass rusher — which gets harder every season as teams have more and more chances to try and “figure him out” (but they keep failing to do that) — is as impressive as anything else he’s done.
Aaron Donald has the second-most sacks since last year— TurfShowTimes (@TurfShowTimes) September 10, 2021
The second-most sacks since 2019
The most sacks since 2018
The most since 2017
The most since 2016
Since the year he was drafted by the Rams, 2014
Second-most since 2013, year before he was drafted
Consider the remarkable inconsistency of former teammates like Dante Fowler, Jr and Robert Quinn. Donald helped them reach new highs with the Rams and yet whether Donald was alongside a premier defensive lineman/linebacker or not, he has always been a deadly, disruptive, dominant pass rusher.
Aaron Donald racks sacks, with the most 3-sack games since 2014
Since 2014, Donald’s 16 games with at least two sacks is tied for second behind J.J. Watt, who has 17. But Donald has more three-sack games in that time than Watt or any other player with five.
Aaron Donald has the second-most 2-sack games since 2014, behind only JJ Watt.— TurfShowTimes (@TurfShowTimes) September 10, 2021
Donald and Chandler Jones have 16, while Watt has 17. (Watt has even missed 32 games in that time) #rams
And 4-sack games?
Only Donald and Chandler Jones have had two 4-sack games in the last seven seasons. You may remember that Aaron Donald had four sacks against Alex Smith and the Washington Football Team in 2020.
Now consider that J.J. Watt has done all of his damage in the AFC South, while Donald has done all of his damage in the NFC West.
Aaron Donald has OWNED the TFL category: 131 since 2014 is 30 more than the next guy
It doesn’t matter what position you play. Defensive tackle, defensive end, linebacker, box safety ... nobody has come close to stopping opposing players in the backfield like Donald stops players in the backfield.
Donald has 131 tackles for a loss since 2014 and that is 30 more than second-place Cam Jordan.
It is more than twice as many as Geno Atkins (65), even though Atkins ranks 23rd overall in TFL over that period of time and is third among defensive tackles behind Donald and Ndamukong Suh. So Donald has more than double the amount of TFL as the third-place defensive tackle.
Aaron Donald has complete domination over every other defensive tackle of his generation: Leader in sacks, QB hits, TFL, and much more
Though we know that Donald is the best defensive player of his generation period, it becomes even sillier when you compare Donald to other defensive tackles. The fact that he’s the most dominant pass rusher in an era where threats almost exclusively come from the edge (which gives them significant advantages that Donald, one of the most double and triple-teamed players in the NFL) is one thing, but we might as well say that he is the only player who plays his position.
It’s not “Defensive Tackle” so much as “Donald Tackle” and he really is in a class of one.
Aaron Donald ranks first in sacks since he was drafted in 2014. The next true defensive tackle after him on the total sacks list would be Geno Atkins, who ranks 24th overall and with 39 fewer sacks than Donald’s 85.5.— TurfShowTimes (@TurfShowTimes) September 10, 2021
Among true defensive tackles, Donald’s 131 TFL is 53 more than second-place Suh, 66 more than third-place Atkins, and 70 more than fourth-place Jurrell Casey.
His 201 QB hits is 70 more than Leonard Williams in that time, 79 more than Suh, and 90 more than the elite Fletcher Cox.
Donald’s 85.5 sacks is 39 more than second-place Atkins, 39.5 more than Cox, 44.5 more than Gerald McCoy, and 45 more than Chris Jones.
On top of all of that, Donald’s 247 career solo tackles is the second-most in that time among defensive tackles (eight behind Damon Harrison) and Donald is fifth in total tackles.
And Aaron Donald wasn’t even as dominant as a rookie as he would go on to become in year two and beyond.
If you go back to 2016, when Williams was drafted, Donald still has 30 more TFL than Calais Campbell (who moves around the defensive line and I wouldn’t call a “true defensive tackle”) and 43 more than the next guy, DeForest Buckner. He still has 25 more sacks than Chris Jones in that time, and 41 more QB hits than second-place Williams in that time.
There is no defensive tackle like Donald. No player like Donald. Not now. Maybe not ever.