Lost in all the attention surrounding Los Angeles Rams training camp was Aaron Donald receiving yet another accolade on his already overloaded resume. This week, ESPN picked the greatest NFL players of all time according to their respective position on either offense or defense. Voting was conducted by 50 experts, reporters and analysts close to the sport.
Donald has made a career of causing quarterbacks to boom boom in their pants so it should be no surprise that voters named him the greatest defensive tackle in league history. AD earned 39 of the 50 votes cast and beat out all-time greats such as Joe Greene, fellow Rams legend Deacon Jones, Alan Page, John Randle and Warren Sapp. Jeff Legwold of ESPN broke down why Donald was crowned the GOAT at his position:
“Donald gets even the most remember-when people in the league to acknowledge his place in NFL history. He has won three Defensive Player of the Year awards and been a first-team All-Pro selection in seven of his eight seasons. And even though he is constantly swarmed with blockers, Donald unravels offensive game plans. His first Super Bowl win earlier this year only adds to an already Canton-worthy résumé.” via ESPN
This is what a couple of the voters had to say about their (correct) selection:
“I’m admittedly biased here because Deacon Jones — a runner-up for me here — played long before my time covering the NFL, and I’ve watched Donald’s entire career with an up-close view of how he has made life a living hell for NFC West rivals. Donald’s résumé makes a convincing enough case on its own, but he also just makes blockers look like they’re not even trying.” Seahawks reporter Brady Henderson via ESPN
“Donald’s size was not a fit for a handful of NFL teams when he was entering the 2014 NFL draft out of Pittsburgh, but his tape was outrageous. I’ve never seen a player — college or pro — with a more explosive take-off, and his combination of flexibility and strength to advance his pass rush while engaged with an offensive lineman is unique. A GM who was doing his due diligence on Donald told me at the time that every coach and staff member in the Pitt program he had talked to said they had never been around a better practice player. It helps explain how Donald has become the best interior pass-rusher in the history of the game.” NFL draft analyst Todd McShay via ESPN
None of this praise should come as a shock to anyone who has ever had the pleasure of watching the future Hall of Famer’s career unfold. Aside from Urban Meyer, anyone who has ever been around the NFL knows how special Aaron Donald is. (Good thing that joker’s no longer coaching in the league.)
Donald’s greatness is already solidified and someday, the GOAT will be immortalized in Canton. The other 31 teams don’t have to be told how great AD is. They already know which makes it all the more enjoyable when rubbing it in their faces that the Rams have him and they don’t. Sucks to be them!