Pro Football Focus (PFF) earlier this month compiled its list of the 50 best players in the NFL heading into the 2020 season. At the top? Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
"No matter how good you think Aaron Donald is, you're underselling it," PFF Lead NFL Analyst Sam Monson wrote as part of his analysis. "He is the best player in the NFL by a distance, and only the fact that his position doesn't impact a game as heavily as quarterback or even receiver makes that in any way a debate. Since entering the league, Donald owns the best pressure rate, the best pass-rush win rate (factoring in wins at the line that don't result in pressures), the best PFF pass-rushing grade and the most total pressures."
As alluded to above, Donald has long been held in high regard by the scouting service. He was chosen as PFF's 2019 defensive player of the year, 2019 pass-rusher of the year, landed at No. 2 on their Top 101 players from the 2019 season and was selected to their all-decade team. Donald has also been the highest-graded Rams defender in each of his six seasons so far.
Most recently, Donald led the Rams with 20 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks this past season, also generating a team-high 80 pressures – all while facing two or more blockers on 319 of his rushes, most of any interior defender per PFF. His win rate of 18.2 percent was also highest among interior defenders this season.
Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley is doing his part to ensure Donald continues to meet those expectations in 2020, hopefully with fewer double teams.
"We want to make sure we can get him as many isolations as possible," Staley said last month. "If we can get Aaron to play against one person as opposed to two, then our odds of being successful go through the roof."