Unsurprisingly, Aaron Donald Outshines Everyone in Latest Player Rankings

Dec 27, 2020; Seattle, Washington, USA; Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald (99) sacks Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) during the third quarter at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Over the last week or so, Pro Football Focus has been revealing their top 50 players in the league for 2021. It came as no surprise to me, that for the 5th straight year Aaron Donald was crowned best in the league. With an impressive PFF grade of 94.5. He’s not just the best right now, he has been for several years now. He is rightly regarded as one of the greatest defensive players of all time.

The Pittsburgh native has been a monster since coming into the league in 2014 and has gone from strength to strength. The list of accolades for the Defensive Tackle is a lengthy one. Starting with Defensive Rookie of the Year, and PFWA All-Rookie team honors back in 2014. Followed up by 3 Defensive Player of the Year awards in 2017, 2018, and 2020. He has been voted to the Pro Bowl all 7 seasons he has been in the league (2014-2020), and All-Pro for 6 straight seasons (2015-2020). He was also the sack leader in 2018. To finish off, he was a unanimous selection for the NFL 2010’s All-Decade Team.

How long can the dominance last?

Donald turned 30 in May, and there have been no signs of him slowing up yet. His stats last season were as impressive as ever. Four forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 13.5 sacks, 28 QB hits, and led the league with 98 total pressures. He remains the most feared player in the league, and with good reason. In a league full of Uber-talented physical freaks, Donald stands out like a giant among men. Something that is even more amazing, considering his metrics of 6’1 and 280 lbs are considered “under-sized” for his position.

To use an old cliche, Father Time catches up with us all. Eventually, Donald will lose his position at the top. Younger players like runner-up in the list Quarterback Patrick Mahomes, and young Edge Rushers like TJ Watt, Joey Bosa, and Myles Garrett are the prime candidates to take that top spot. For now, though, I’d expect another big season from Aaron Donald in 2021. Seeing him top PFF’s top 50 list next year as well, wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

Surrounded by talent on what is arguably the best defense in the NFL and with star Quarterback Matthew Stafford on the team, the Rams will be looking to go one better than they did in Super Bowl LIII, where they lost 13-3 to the New England Patriots. A Super Bowl ring is all that is missing for Aaron Donald, who is a certain first-ballot Hall of Famer. Canton is waiting for him when he retires, but there are more years of him terrorizing the league’s quarterbacks to come yet before that happens.