Don't worry about Aaron Donald's height, judge him on his athleticism

Justin K. Aller

BTSC's Dale Grdnic covered one of the Combine's biggest stars, Pitt DT Aaron Donald, and advises NFL teams they shouldn't be too concerned with his supposed lack of height. The guy can flat-out play football.

PITTSBURGH -- For those who believe that a lack of height and arm length are shortcomings that will keep Aaron Donald from being selected in the first round during this year's NFL Draft, they must not have seen the former Pitt defensive tackle play a down this past season.

Donald was dominant and disruptive. He had 11 sacks, an amazing number for an interior defensive lineman who was double-teamed on nearly every snap, and 28.5 total stops behind the line to lead the nation. He also had three pass breakups and four forced fumbles, which all show his on-field prowess.

Off the field, Donald was equally as impressive. Normally a quiet, unassuming guy, Donald developed into an interesting personality off the field. He became a leader in the locker room. He didn't talk much, but when Donald said something his Pitt teammates listened. And as the year went on, he became among the most sought-after Panthers for interview requests. Donald didn't used to be so comfortable in front of cameras and microphones, but his smile and infectious personality shined brighter with every word he spoke.

Those off-field characteristics likely made Donald well-received during the interview sessions with the media as well as the coaches, general managers and personnel people at the NFL Combine the past few days. Then, Donald blew everyone away during the workouts.

His athleticism was quickly evident and for a nearly 6-foot-1 and 290-pound powerhouse, he was amazing. Donald's 4.65 seconds in the 40-yard dash was special. His arm length was measured at 32 5/8 inches, while his hand size was 9 7/8. And when strength came into play, Donald bench-pressed 225 pounds 35 times. Those reps were among the leaders for defensive linemen.

Donald clearly has displayed strength, speed and athleticism on the field and just as many leadership qualities off the field as on it. He primarily as seen by most as a 3-technique defensive tackle in a 4-3 defense. The Chicago Bears, Tennessee Titans, St. Louis Rams, Cincinnati Bengals and New England Patriots are a handful of teams who could covet Donald.

So, why wouldn't an NFL team want to take him during the first round this year? That's anybody's guess, but there should be no question whether Donald is worthy of being a first-round pick. He has proven that time and time again.

Donald will display his talents again March 3 at Pitt's pro day, and then it will be up to the NFL teams on where they want to take him during this year's NFL Draft, May 8-10 in New York City.

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