However, he wasn't always seen in that light as there were doubters that didn't see star potential when he first entered the league as the 13th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. One of which was Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan, who stated during his tenure with the New York Jets in 2014 that Donald "couldn't hold the jock strap” of Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson.
Two years later, Ryan is now backtracking on those comments regarding Donald made during his rookie campaign.
“I’ve made a lot of dumb comments in my days, that’s probably right up there at the top," Ryan said. "But what it was, was I was disappointed. We had a guy, (Jets DE) Sheldon Richardson had a great year, never made the Pro Bowl and one of our coaches had said ‘This guy can’t hold his jock.’ So I go ahead and say it – I never even saw him play, but I knew he was a rookie, so rookies shouldn’t go to the Pro Bowl.
"But, anyway, after I’ve seen this kid play, I’m like ‘Oh boy!’ Mark that down as one of the dumbest ones – and I’ve had a couple of them, maybe one or two dumb ones, that one right there is right at the top. But, obviously, he’s a great player."
Donald has completely blown past any level of expectations set before him as through his first two seasons he had two Pro Bowl nods, a First Team All-Pro selection (2015), and won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year (2014). Although he got off to a slow start statistically in 2016, the 25-year-old leads the league with 25 quarterback pressures and is coming off his best performance this season recording five total tackles with 1.5 sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss, and four hits on the quarterback against the Arizona Cardinals.
With all that in mind, Ryan used this opportunity to issue an even greater compliment by comparing the Rams' star defensive tackle to a Hall of Famer at the position.
"I’m looking at Donald, and the thing about him is he’s got such great quickness, but he’s also got such a change of direction, he’s got head and shoulder fakes and he uses his hands so well," Ryan said. "And I love his motor, it’s rare to find someone who can play as many snaps as he does with that kind of intensity and effort. Really, a joy to watch – unfortunately, I’m not looking forward to Sunday, I can tell you that much. He really is a fun player to watch and I love his effort. I guess the nearest thing to him is John Randle, that I can remember – a guy with just explosiveness and power. Really a rare guy."