How DT Aaron Donald Fits with the St. Louis Rams

Steven GerwelContributor IIIMay 8, 2014

In this photo takenon Nov. 29, 2013, Pittsburgh defensive lineman Aaron Donald warms up before an NCAA football game against Miami in Pittsburgh. Donald, the most-decorated defensive player during the 2013 college football season with four major awards, could be the Panthers' highest draft pick since wideout Larry Fitzgerald was taken third overall by the Arizona Cardinals in 2004. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

With two selections in the top round, the St. Louis Rams entered the draft with an incredible advantage, and the team has certainly capitalized. 

The Rams grabbed dominant tackle Greg Robinson at No. 2 overall. With the No. 13 pick, the Rams added Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald. 

Donald was not initially mocked in the first round by many, but he climbed his way up the board after an astonishing performance at the NFL Combine. 

Per, the 285-pound Donald ran the 40-yard dash in 4.68 seconds and recorded 35 reps on the bench press at the combine. With those numbers, it's easy to understand why Donald's stock skyrocketed. 


How Does Donald Fit Week 1? 

Donald will be an immediate starter at tackle alongside Michael Brockers. With Donald and Brockers in the middle, combined with Chris Long and Robert Quinn on the edges, the Rams will have four first-rounders on the defensive line. 

Kendall Langford was the starter in 2013 and is still on the roster, but Langford will likely be moved aside in favor of Donald. 

However, Langford will not be totally marginalized, as the Rams frequently rotate defensive linemen. Langford will still play a major role in the rotation, but Donald is the better talent and will be the Day 1 starter. 

The bigger concern is what will happen to those lower on the depth chart, such as Alex Carrington and Jermelle Cudjo. Both players will likely have to compete for the final roster spot. 


Donald as a Pass Rusher

Donald is a decorated pass-rusher. He recorded 11 sacks last season for Pittsburgh and finished his career with 29.5 sacks. 

The Rams finished third in the NFL last season with 53 sacks, and the team tied for No. 1 in sacks in 2012 with 52. As a result, it's frightening to imagine what this group of pass-rushers can accomplish in the upcoming season. 

Teams expect pressure from Long and Quinn off the edge, but now opposing quarterbacks will have to worry about pressure from the middle. 


Donald as a Run Stuffer

Donald cannot stuff the gaps and eat space the way the 326-pound Brockers can, but the 285-pound Donald will still be adequate against the run.

Brockers can stop the run by merely occupying space, but Donald will rely more on his athleticism to get around blockers and meet the ball carrier.

This is an area that will require some development, but Donald has the raw talent to excel.  



The NFC West is a tough division, so the Rams are answering back with rugged draft picks. Donald makes a fierce defense even more ferocious. 

It can easily be argued that Donald was simply the best overall player available at No. 13 overall, and with veterans Long and Quinn helping him out, Donald will be making an impact in no time. 

This is a solid pick for the Rams and it will pay off immediately. 


Steven Gerwel is the longest-tenured Rams Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report and serves as the Rams' game-day correspondent. You can find more of Gerwel's work by visiting his writer profile or by following him on Twitter.