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Former NFL coach lists Aaron Donald in his all-time front 7

Aaron Donald lines up next to Mean Joe Greene in this all-time front 7

NFL, Rams, 49ers, NFC Championship Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

When Aaron Donald decides to retire, he will undoubtedly go down as one of, if not the best, defensive player of all-time. Throughout his time with the Los Angeles Rams, Donald has won the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year award three times, becoming just the third player in NFL history to achieve that feat. In 2023, he’ll be going for his fourth.

The 33rd team had former NFL head coach Dave Wannstedt list his all-time front seven. To no surprise, Wannstedt included Donald on his list. Here’s what he had to say,

“Let this be a lesson to everybody out there. Don’t go by how tall is the guy or how much does the guy weigh. All these measurable things that people like to point to he doesn’t fit. Aaron Donald is not as big as everybody. He’s not as heavy as everybody. He’s not as fast as everybody in the 40. But he is a three-time DPOY, tied with Taylor for the most all-time. I mean, it’s incredible. The guy has played nine years in the league. How about nine Pro Bowls?”

When you start to list Donald’s accomplishments, you forget just how good he is. Things like Pro Bowls and All-Pro selections are only part of it as well. This doesn’t even mention the advanced analytics in which Donald has been the gold standard throughout his career. Between 2016 and 2021, Donald was Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded defensive player. Last season was the first time in six years that he didn’t hold the number one spot. In 2015, Donald ranked number two.

Wannstedt continued,

“And, just as importantly, Donald makes offensive coaches around the league change their game plan. When you are going to play the Los Angeles Rams, you have to figure how a way to block Donald. Are we going to double him? Are we going to move the protection to him? Are we going to put a back or tight end on him? What are we going to do to block Donald? Offensive coaches tell me that when they play the Rams, the discussion starts with Donald. The guy’s got everything going for him. For a young guy still playing with his explosiveness, his quickness, his leverage and his hands, he can continue to add to his already impressive career.”

This is also an underrated aspect of Donald’s game. Many great players are the center of the opposing team’s game plan. However, Donald dictates what the offense does on any given play. Donald has been consistently double-teamed and was the most double-teamed player in 2022 by a wide margin. All of this attention from opposing teams and he’s still at the top in pass-rush win-rate.

Along with Donald on Wannstedt’s front seven were Lawrence Taylor, Reggie White, Joe Greene, Derrick Brooks, Junior Seau, and Ray Lewis. You wouldn’t want to be the offensive or offensive line that has to face that group. Who would you put in your front seven? Let us know in the comments below!