Former Pitt defensive lineman Donald dominates NFL Combine
By Alan Robinson
Published: Monday, Feb. 24, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Jadeveon Clowney won the event. Aaron Donald won the day.
Clowney's freakish time of 4.53 seconds in the 40-yard dash created the early-in-the-day buzz Monday at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
It's the kind of speed defensive linemen simply aren't supposed to have.
By late afternoon, it was Donald who was the talk at Lucas Oil Stadium. According to NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, Donald's 4.68 time in the 40 was comparable to Clowney's because the 285-pound Donald outweighs Clowney by almost 20 pounds
Mayock said Donald's overall day, which included a strong performance in weightlifting and an excellent run in the three-cone drill, was as good as any defensive lineman has had at the combine in 10 years.
“A lot of people were asking me what I could put down ... what I told them was just to see on Monday,” Donald told the Tribune-Review after his workout. “So I felt I shocked the world with that.”
Donald's 40-yard dash time was sixth among the defensive linemen, but all those ahead of him were 20 to 50 pounds lighter. And his 35 continuous lifts of 225 pounds were second only to the 36 by Kaleb Ramsey (Laurel Highlands) of Boston College, and were 14 more than Clowney.
Clowney is predicted to go within the first five picks in the May 8 draft.
Donald's time of 7.11 seconds in the three-cone drill was the fourth-fastest among defensive linemen and was much faster than many of the linebackers. Donald also had a broad jump of 9 feet, 8 inches and a vertical jump of 32 inches that is exceptional for his size.
“I feel like I was expected to do big things at the combine, and I accomplished that,” Donald said. “I feel like I did great overall. The position drills I feel like I did great on.
“ I was confident going into the combine. I did the same things I've been doing (while training) for five, seven weeks.”
Donald, who flew back to Pittsburgh on Monday night, met formally with “nine or 10 teams” and will meet with others, including the Steelers, after Pitt's March 3 pro day.
“A lot of guys out there liked me and liked my film and feel like I can make a difference, come in and make an impact right away,” Donald said. “The Cowboys seemed like they were very interested. (They have) a veteran like DeMarcus Ware. If I had the opportunity to play with him and to learn from him, the way they play their fronts, I feel like I'd fit in there just right.”
Donald won every postseason award possible for his position except the Heisman Trophy. But he has been projected to be a third-round pick because of a lack of height (he's 6-1) and somewhat short (325⁄8-inch) arms.
But Mayock said on the NFL Network that Donald is so disruptive it makes up for any physical limitations.
“It was a real busy week, but it was an amazing experience, a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” Donald said. “I had the experience and the opportunity to talk to so many teams and get a feel for them, and have them get a feel for me. So it was great.”
Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.
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