Pitt's Donald impresses as Senior Bowl nears
No longer an amateur, Aaron Donald has moved smoothly into the world of professional football. He has an agent, a workout site in Arizona and a helmet for the Senior Bowl on Saturday in Mobile, Ala.
Yet he said he hasn't changed.
“You know me,” Donald said by phone. “I don't like to brag unless it's about playing pingpong.”
The former Pitt defensive tackle doesn't know how to lie, either. When asked to describe how he has performed against college football's best offensive linemen in Senior Bowl practices, he said, “I feel I have the capabilities. I'm just doing what I have been doing all (season).”
That's another way of saying he belongs. ESPN's scouting team of Todd McShay, Steve Muench and Kevin Weidl went further. They wrote that Donald will be the best interior rusher in the game.
Their assessment: “Donald showed the ability to beat offensive linemen with quickness, power and active hands, and his ability to do it so many different ways make it that much harder to keep him off the quarterback.”
Donald, named by scouts as the most outstanding practice player of the week, also performed well against Baylor's Cyril Richardson, ranked the third-best guard by NFLDraftScout.com.
“He's extremely hard to block,” Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan told ESPN.com. “He's very quick. He's an intelligent kid, uses his hands well. He's a playmaker.”
The Falcons staff is coaching the North squad this week, and Donald appears to fit nicely into Atlanta's 4-3 defensive alignment, which is similar to what he played at Pitt.
NFLDraftScout.com projects Donald as a first- or second-round choice and ranks him the third-best defensive tackle prospect, behind Notre Dame's Louis Nix III and Minnesota's RaShede Hageman. ESPN's Mel Kiper ranks Donald fifth.
The Senior Bowl is the second leg of Donald's journey toward the NFL, where he will become the first Pitt player drafted since five were selected in 2011. He began training in Arizona about a week after Pitt's final game.
After the Senior Bowl, he will return to Arizona to continue workouts before traveling to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis next month. He said he plans to be back in Pittsburgh for Pitt's pro day March 3.
When he arrived in Mobile, he was measured at 6-foot-7⁄8, 288 pounds, not far off his height and weight during the season (6-0, 285).
He said he remains largely unchanged in other ways, too.
“I'm still the same football player, still the same person,” he said. “I'm just growing a lot more and trying to better myself.”
He said he has met with coaches and scouts from several NFL teams, a process he enjoys.
“I'm letting these guys,” he said, “meet me outside the football pads so they know the type of person I am: A laid-back guy who likes to be with family.”
Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pitt’s ACC men’s basketball schedule announced
- Greensburg Central influence follows Delaware quarterback