Credit to Erick Ward for an outstanding video.
|Defensive Tackle /
|Late 1st -
Aaron Donald is a pass rushing Swiss Army knife. During his time at Pittsburgh, he played defensive end, nose tackle and the under tackle position. Under tackle is his most natural position but he does posses the versatility to bring that pass rush anywhere on the defensive line. He demands constant attention from two, sometimes three offensive linemen, or he will cut into the backfield. This gives the rest of the defensive line an opportunity to make a play. Now imagine the production from players such as Everson Griffen, Brian Robison and possibly Sharrif Floyd during obvious passing downs with Donald sucking up several offensive linemen.
[Burst] Aaron Donald is so successful with penetrating the O-Line because of his tremendous burst. His abilities to attack the backfield and effectively wrap up allow him to tackle a running back or quarterback with the same amount of effort. Sometimes he tackles both for good measure:
[Anti-Block] Donald is tremendous at shedding blocks. He has good technique using his hands coupled with his speed. He is essentially a defensive end stuck in an under tackle's body. His size actually helps him here, with the ability to stay low and remain hard for offensive linemen to get a grab on him. His short frame also helps Donald knock a guard off balance:
[Versatility] As mentioned, Donald is ideal for the under tackle but it isn't an uncommon thought to line him up on the outside and unleash his bull rush. The question would remain, how would the Minnesota Vikings utilize Donald's talents? It isn't that practical to constantly line him up as a defensive end and would not do justice to his talent, since he is such an inside threat. You could line him up in the nose tackle position but he is no where near the ideal size to plug the running lanes while still applying pressure on the quarterback. Ideally you would want to get Donald in at the under tackle as much as possible. But wait, we already have Sharrif Floyd and don't need to prevent his development with another under tackle yadda yadda. If the defensive scheme stays a 4-3, then on obvious passing downs you move Floyd to nose tackle and deploy Donalds at the under tackle. Let them compete for playing time at the under tackle position for non-passing downs. This video will speak to his versatility (notice where they line him up):
[Size] His size truly hurts his image to some teams. Some may argue his short stature is what gives him such momentum when coming off the line. Others would reference current NFL standards for a player at his position and there aren't as many successful defensive tackles his size outside of a few unique talents, such as Geno Atkins. But Geno Atkins went in the fourth round in 2010 (pick 120) and wasn't as much of a risk as Donald in the late first or early second.
[Run] Donald has improved his run stopping ability but due to the nature of his size, his consistency isn't 100%. He did alright against the run in the college levels but the thought of him going against professional NFL talent might provide further concern about his run stopping ability.
I don't think the Vikings should draft Aaron Donald with the 8th overall pick. That is too much of a reach, especially when you can argue that there are other positions of dire need. However, if the Vikings find a trade partner and move down, I would be just fine with them selecting him in the late first round.
What say you? Take the poll and explain your feelings towards drafting or not drafting Aaron Donald in the comments.