Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Donald earns PFF's Defensive Player of the Year

The Rams' star defensive tackle added another prestigious award on Tuesday.

With the 2016 season now concluded for the Los Angeles Rams, defensive tackle Aaron Donald was chosen by Pro Football Focus as the Defensive Player of the Year. 

Although he saw a drop in his sack total to just eight this past season, he finished with 36 tackles, 31 hits on the quarterback, two forced fumbles, and a league-leading 17 tackles-for-loss. According to Pro Football Focus, he had also finished with 82 total quarterback pressures, which was five more than any other interior defensive lineman and was tied for second-most in the NFL behind just Oakland Raiders' defensive end Khalil Mack.

Donald was also named the best passer rusher by Pro Football Focus beating out Mack and Denver Broncos outside linebacker/defensive end Von Miller. He graded out by far the best at creating decisive pressure that occurred every 8.7 pass rushes during the 2016 season, which was about nine greater than the next best mark by an interior defensive lineman that was held by Arizona Cardinals' defensive tackle Calais Campbell (18.0). 

Despite the minor drop in his overall production, the 24-year-old has only further established himself as one of the best defensive players in the league among the likes of Mack, Miller, Houston Texans' defensive end J.J. Watt, and Carolina Panthers' linebacker Luke Kueckly.

Along with earning this award, he also was selected to his third consecutive Pro Bowl in as many seasons and his second straight All-Pro First Team nod. He was also named to the Pro Football Writers' All-NFL team and was chosen as the Rams' MVP for this past season. Since entering the league, Donald has been a disruptive force leading all defensive tackles in sacks (28.0), and tackles for loss (57.0) over his first three campaigns.

What has been most impressive about Donald is that he has been able to remain highly productive and a game-changer despite being double or triple teamed on a consistent basis. He has also continued to show growth in his role as he displayed versatility playing at each position along the defensive line this past season due to injuries to defensive ends Robert Quinn and William Hayes.  

Donald is a unique player that talent that has been compared to some of the greats in the game such as Hall of Fame defensive tackle John Randle because of his ability to constant get to the quarterback. As he continues to stack up the accolades and other various individual marks, it only strengthens his resume to be considered not only one of the best in the league among peers but also the all-time greats to play. 


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