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Top Rams players from the 2022 season, No. 7: Aaron Donald

Rams franchise hero is not number one on the list

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NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022 Los Angeles Rams season featured a lot of changing parts. Franchise cornerstone Andrew Whitworth retired after the Super Bowl. 2021 mid-season trade acquisition Von Miller went east and joined the Buffalo Bills. Robert Woods was traded to the Tennessee Titans. And Odell Beckham Jr went unsigned as he recovered from an ACL tear. From Week 1, the Rams started losing starters to injuries. This forced new names into more prominent roles.

In continuing the countdown list of the 2022 Los Angeles Rams top 15 individual performers, let’s take a quick look first at the current list.

#15 - Van Jefferson, WR

#14 - Tutu Atwell, WR

#13 - Matthew Stafford, QB

#12 - Ernest Jones, ILB

#11 - Michael Hoecht, EDGE

#10 - Tyler Higbee, TE

#9 - Decobie Durant, CB

#8 - Rob Havenstein, RT

Next on the list is the Rams franchise icon and future Hall of Famer…

#7 - Aaron Donald, DL

The 2022 season was something that we had never seen from Aaron Donald - he showed a mortal side. The three-time defensive player of the year was only healthy for 11 games. After the loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 12, Donald was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain and missed the rest of the year.

Donald has been the Rams best player ever since he was drafted by the franchise in 2014. However, at age 31, father time seems to be catching up with Donald. His production in 2022 reflects a noticeable difference. This was the first year that he did not record double digit sacks (five) since 2016. He only managed to hit the opposing quarterback 11 times. There were noticeable games where Donald did not take over the game in closing minutes like he used to. Matchups against the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers were games that came down to the wire, but Donald was not in the spotlight. As opposed to in 2021 where he was the one that ended games versus the Bengals in the Super Bowl, the NFC Championship Game versus the San Francisco 49ers, at the Baltimore Ravens, at the Arizona Cardinals, and versus the Detroit Lions.

Despite the down year, this is Aaron Donald we are talking about after all. He is double teamed at the highest rate in the NFL. Offensive coordinators are constantly scheming to avoid their quarterback holding the ball too long. Even when he isn’t accumulating sacks, tackles for loss, or splash plays, Donald is still wreaking havoc. Just ask other NFL players who voted him all pro in the first ever NFLPA All Pro Vote despite missing six games.

No. 99 also recorded his 100th career sack in 2022 and currently has 103.0 on his career.

Donald was still the PFF’s number three ranked defensive lineman with a season grade of 90.5. His best game came against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 5. In just 39 defensive snaps, Donald tallied six tackles, two sacks on Cooper Rush, one tackle for loss, and forced a fumble. The performance earned AD99 a 93.2 grade for the game.

It’s hard to fathom Aaron Donald not returning to some level of greatness in 2023. And yes, he is returning in 2023. Donald has two years left on his deal, and it is a pretty safe bet that he will retire after that, so you can expect him to go all-in with his body, work ethic, and drive to recapture his 2014-2021 seasons.


Who was better in the 2022 season?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    Rob Havenstein, RT
    (6 votes)
  • 84%
    Aaron Donald, DL
    (33 votes)
39 votes total Vote Now