|Intro||American football player|
|Is||American football player|
|From||United States of America|
|Birth||23 May 1991, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA|
Aaron Charles Donald (born May 23, 1991) is an American football defensive tackle for the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Pittsburgh, where he was recognized as a unanimous All-American. He was drafted by the Rams with the thirteenth pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He has been selected to seven Pro Bowls in his seven years into the league, won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and has been named AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year three times, having won it back-to-back in 2017 and 2018, and again in 2020. Donald has been cited as one of the greatest defensive tackles of all time.
A native of Pittsburgh, Donald grew up as one of three children in a working-class family in the city's Lincoln–Lemington–Belmar neighborhood. His father Archie introduced Aaron to workouts, seeking to provide more structure in his son's life. Aaron himself would later admit that he was "lazy as a kid". By age 14, he and his father woke up at 4:30 am and almost immediately proceeded to work out for nearly two hours in the basement gym that Archie installed in the family home.
Donald attended Penn Hills High School, where he played high school football for head coach Ron Graham. He was selected first team All-State Class AAAA in each of his final two seasons, and compiled 63 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, and 11 sacks as a senior. He also started at offensive guard.
Considered a three-star prospect by Rivals.com, he was rated as the 37th best defensive tackle in the nation. He committed to hometown Pittsburgh over other scholarship offers from Toledo, Akron, and Rutgers.
As a true freshman, Donald played in all 13 games as a reserve defensive end. He recorded 11 tackles, including three for loss, and two sacks. In 2011, as a sophomore, Donald moved into the starting lineup, and turned in a breakout campaign. He recorded 47 tackles, including 16 for loss, 11 sacks and one forced fumble, and was named a second-team All-Big East selection. As a junior, he recorded 64 tackles, including 18.5 for loss, 5.5 sacks, and one forced fumble, earning first-team All-Big East honors. In his senior season, he became one of the most productive defensive players in the entire NCAA. He posted 59 tackles, including a career best 28.5 for loss, 11 sacks, and four forced fumbles. He was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year and was a unanimous All-American.
Awards and honors
- Lombardi Award
- Bronko Nagurski Trophy
- Chuck Bednarik Award
- Outland Trophy
At the NFL Combine, Donald set the record for fastest 40-yard dash time for a defensive tackle with a 4.68. The record previously held by Tank Johnson, who ran a 4.69 in 2004. He drew comparisons to John Randle afterwards. Donald was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the first round with the 13th overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft.
|Height||Weight||Arm length||Hand size||40-yard dash||10-yard split||20-yard split||20-yard shuttle||Three-cone drill||Vertical jump||Broad jump||Bench press|
|6 ft 0 ⁄4 in
|32 ⁄8 in
|9 ⁄8 in
|4.68 s||1.59 s||3.21 s||4.39 s||7.11 s||32 in
|9 ft 8 in
|All values from NFL Combine|
On June 16, 2014, the Rams signed Donald to a four-year, fully guaranteed $10.13 million rookie contract. The contract also included a $5.69 million signing bonus and a fifth-year option.
On September 7, 2014, Donald made his NFL debut against the Minnesota Vikings and finished the 34–6 loss with four tackles. The following week, he recorded three tackles and his first NFL sack during a 19–17 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On October 13, 2014, he was given his first career start against the San Francisco 49ers and finished the game with four solo tackles. After recording 47 tackles, nine sacks, and two forced fumbles, Donald was one of five rookies selected to the 2015 Pro Bowl. Donald won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award and was named to the NFL All-Rookie Team.
In 2015, Donald began the season as the Rams' starting defensive tackle. During the season opener against the Seattle Seahawks, he recorded a career-high nine total tackles and two sacks, helping the Rams win 34–31 in overtime. He was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for the first time in his NFL career for his performance. On December 13, 2015, Donald made five tackles and a career-high three sacks against the Detroit Lions in Week 14. He earned his second NFC Defensive Player of the Week award in 2015 after his performance against the Lions.
Donald started all 16 games and ended the season with 69 tackles, 11 sacks, a pass defended, and a fumble recovery. He earned a First Team All-Pro nomination for the first time in his NFL career. He was a Pro Bowl selection for the second consecutive season. He was also ranked 14th by his fellow players on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2016.
On September 12, 2016, Donald was ejected for making illegal contact with a referee in a 28–0 shutout loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football. Four days later, he was fined $21,269 for unnecessary roughness ($9,115) and unsportsmanlike conduct ($12,154). During a Week 4 17–13 victory over the Arizona Cardinals, Donald had 1.5 sacks, five total tackles, one tackle-for-loss, five quarterback hits, and a forced fumble. He earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week for the third time in his career after his performance against the Cardinals. On October 21, 2016, he was fined $18,231 for an unsportsmanlike conduct after committing the penalty during a game against the Detroit Lions. Donald was named to his third straight Pro Bowl and his second First-team All-Pro. Donald was also ranked 15th on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2017.
On April 12, 2017, the Rams exercised the fifth-year option on Donald's contract. He did not report to training camp and preseason due to a contract extension dispute. He accumulated about $1.4 million in fines due to his non-participation, and each game that he missed cost him one game check from his base salary of $1.8 million. On September 9, 2017, Donald reported to the Rams and passed his physical, however, he didn't play in the season-opener against the Indianapolis Colts the next day, which the Rams won 46-9. On December 19, 2017, Donald was named to his fourth straight Pro Bowl. He was also later named a first-team All-Pro for the third time. Donald finished the 2017 season with 41 tackles, 11 sacks, and five forced fumbles. After a stellar 2017 season, Donald was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He was ranked #7 by his peers on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2018.
On August 31, 2018, after holding out all offseason, Donald signed a six-year, $135 million contract extension with $87 million guaranteed. The deal made him the highest paid defensive player in NFL history, although Khalil Mack signed a $141 million contract with the Chicago Bears the next day after being traded from the Oakland Raiders.
During Week 7 against the San Francisco 49ers, Donald recorded a career-high four sacks on quarterback C. J. Beathard, along with nine tackles, 6 for a loss, and five quarterback hits in a 39–10 win, earning him NFC Defensive Player of the Week for the fourth time in his career. Donald was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for the month of October after recording eight sacks, 17 tackles, and a forced fumble. In Week 16, Donald recorded seven tackles (four for a loss) and three sacks in a 31–9 victory over the Arizona Cardinals, earning him his fifth NFC Defensive Player of the Week. His three sacks brought his season total to 19.5, which broke the record for most sacks in a season by a defensive tackle, previously held by Keith Millard with 18.0. Donald added another sack in Week 17 against the 49ers and finished the season with a league-leading 20.5 sacks. Donald was named NFC Defensive Player of the Month for December, his second such award in the season.
On January 4, 2019, Donald was named to the AP All-Pro First Team, being the only unanimous selection. On February 2, 2019, Donald was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Donald joined Lawrence Taylor and J. J. Watt as the only players who have won the award in consecutive seasons. Donald helped the Rams reach Super Bowl LIII after defeating the Dallas Cowboys in the Divisional Round and the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship. In the Super Bowl, Donald recorded five tackles but the Rams lost by a score of 13–3 to the New England Patriots, with the Patriots offensive linemen (including Joe Thuney) double teaming Donald in order to neutralize his effectiveness which was cited as a key factor in the result. He was ranked as the best player in the NFL by his peers on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2019.
During Week 3 against the Cleveland Browns, Donald recorded his first sack of the season on Baker Mayfield in the 20–13 road victory. However, six days after the game, he was fined $21,056 for a roughing the passer hit on Mayfield. Three weeks later against the San Francisco 49ers, Donald sacked Jimmy Garoppolo twice in the 20–7 loss. In the next game against the Atlanta Falcons, Donald recorded a strip sack on Matt Ryan and recovered the football in the 37–10 road victory. During Week 11 against the Chicago Bears on Sunday Night Football, Donald recorded two sacks, four tackles, and a pass defensed in a 17–7 victory, earning NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
In Week 1 against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football, Donald recorded his first sack of the season on Dak Prescott during the 20–17 win. In Week 3 against the Buffalo Bills, Donald recorded two sacks on Josh Allen, one of which was a strip sack that he later recovered during the 35–32 loss. In Week 5 against the Washington Football Team, Donald recorded four sacks during the 30–10 win On October 14, 2020, Donald was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in Week 5. In Week 8 against the Miami Dolphins, Donald recorded a strip sack on rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa on Tagovailoa's first career passing attempt during the 28–17 loss. In Week 12 against the San Francisco 49ers, Donald recorded a sack on Nick Mullens and forced a fumble on running back Raheem Mostert that was recovered and returned by teammate Troy Hill for a touchdown during the 23–20 loss.
Donald was selected for the 2021 Pro Bowl. In the Wild Card Round of the playoffs against the Seattle Seahawks, Donald sacked Russell Wilson two times during the 30–20 win.
- 7× Pro Bowl selection, (2014–2020)
- 6× First-team All-Pro selection (2015–2020)
- 5× PFWA All-NFL Team (2015–2019)
- 5× PFF NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2020)
- NFL 2010s All-Decade Team
- Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2017, 2018, 2020)
- Pro Football Writers Association NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2018)
- Kansas City Committee of 101 NFC Defensive Player of the Year (2017, 2018)
- NFL sacks leader/Deacon Jones Award (2018)
- 6× NFL Top 100 (2015–2020)
- Ranked No. 92 in 2015
- Ranked No. 14 in 2016
- Ranked No. 15 in 2017
- Ranked No. 7 in 2018
- Ranked No. 1 in 2019
- Ranked No. 3 in 2020
- 2× NFC Defensive Player of the Month (Oct. 2018, Dec. 2018)
- 7× NFC Defensive Player of the Week (2015 – Week 1, Week 14; 2016 – Week 4; 2018 – Week 7, Week 16; 2019 – Week 11; 2020 – Week 5)
- NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year (2014)
- PFWA All-Rookie Team (2014)
NFL career statistics
|Led the league|
|NFL Defensive Player of the Year|
|St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams|
|Los Angeles Rams|
Donald's older brother, Archie Jr., had a less successful football career; the latter was a star linebacker at Toledo who, according to ESPN writer Alden Gonzalez, "bounced around the NFL as an undrafted free agent until retiring in 2012". The brothers, who shared bunk beds in their childhood, frequently thought about one day helping their parents retire, which according to Gonzalez became one of the driving forces in Aaron's career. On April 27, 2020, Donald revealed on Twitter that he had graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in communications.