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Former Rams coach tells Aaron Donald draft story: ‘This is the best player on the board’

Mike Waufle went to bat for Aaron Donald and now the Rams couldn’t be more thankful for it

St. Louis Rams 2014 Draft Class News Conference Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Mike Waufle was hired by Jeff Fisher in 2012 to be the St. Louis Rams’ defensive line coach and it could turn out to be the smartest thing that the former head coach ever did. The Rams selected Michael Brockers with the 14th overall pick that year and Waufle helped develop him into a solid lineman whose career is still going 10 years later.

But it was Waufle’s eye for defensive tackle talent in 2014 that changed the organization forever and has helped them reach two Super Bowls since Waufle, Fisher, and most of that regime was fired.

Waufle, who retired in 2017 after one season with the Buffalo Bills, went on the Outkick 360 podcast recently and he told the story of how the Rams came to draft Aaron Donald in 2014. Despite the first scouting report saying that Donald was “too small” for the NFL, Waufle noted that Donald’s height was not unusual for a player at his position and that he was too good to pass up; Waufle took Donald’s name and put it above Jadeveon Clowney’s on the Rams’ big board.

“This is the best player on the board right here.”

That got the conversation started for Les Snead to start considering Aaron Donald with St. Louis’s other first round pick that year (they selected Greg Robinson with the second overall pick) but Waufle still had to get creative to get the team over his size concerns: The 6’4 Waufle stood next to Donald for the team to see that they were the same height, but Waufle was in fact squatting.

Donald was sure that the Rams would draft Johnny Manziel over him. They did not.

In part thanks to Mike Waufle.