Aaron Donald A Heavy Favorite For Defensive Rookie of the Year


One of the more impressive rookies in the 2014 season has been defensive tackle Aaron Donald, and luckily for the St. Louis Rams, they just so happened to draft him 13th overall in last year’s draft.

Donald had an impressive rookie season, so much so that he was voted the team’s best rookie in 2014.  Donald led all NFL rookies with 9.0 sacks and was the top graded 4-3 defensive tackle on Pro Football Focus.

While New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. may be almost guaranteed to win offensive rookie of the year, defensive rookie of the year is still up for grabs. The common favorites are St. Louis Rams’ Aaron Donald,  Oakland Raiders’ Khalil Mack, and Baltimore Ravens’ C.J. Mosely.

The PFWA and the AP have yet to cast their votes for rookie of the year, but other experts around the mainstream media such as Pro Football Talk, The MMQB, ESPN, as well as Bleacher Report have cast their votes and have posted their results.

Rams fans have been campaigning for Donald to win the defensive rookie of the year, and it might have paid off as all three of the media outlets listed above have Donald as their winner for the award.

Pro Football Talk

“Appearing in all 16 games with nine starts, Donald had nine sacks while playing interior defensive line, and at times he was an unstoppable force on a defense that helped take down some of the league’s elite teams.  He surprisingly slid out of the top 10 of the draft, and some of the teams that passed on the former Pitt star likely regret it already.”

Monday Morning Quarterback

The MMQB took the panelist approach which included the writers for MMQ; players such as Ryan Clark, Jason McCourty, and Geoff Schwartz; ex players Trent Dilfer, Ross Tucker, Scott Fujita, and others; analysts from Pro Football Focus, Football Outsiders, and the Elias Sports Bureau; and lastly media members from NFL Network, Pro Football Talk, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal. All in all their were 26 different members.

In the voting results, Donald lead the group with 15 first place votes with Mack and Mosley totaling five each and Anthony Barr coming up with one.

“Three candidates dominated voting in this category. “It was tough for one to stand out above that group but Aaron Donald did that on a consistent basis,” explains Ben Stockwell of Pro Football Focus. “When you can come in and put your body of work immediately up against the likes of Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy and Kyle Williams you’ve had some sort of a rookie season. Donald’s rookie season placed him among the best defensive linemen in the league for the 2014 season, at least in the bracket below J.J. Watt.”


“Donald had an uphill battle to get here, because while he wasn’t injured, like Beckham, he also was largely quiet during the first month of the season as a non-starter. But once Donald started to get starter reps (Week 6) he was easily one of the best defensive tackles in football. Only Marcell Dareus had more sacks among true defensive tackles (10.0 to 9.0) and Donald not only was near the QB more often than Dareus in terms of hurries, he also was a major disruptor against the run. Donald really has it all and the Rams’ D-line is in remarkably good shape going forward.” -Mel Kiper

Bleacher Report

“The entire St. Louis Rams defense got off to a slow start this year. Over the first month of the 2014 season, the Rams had only a single sack as a team.

That sack belonged to defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who has since proved to be worth every bit of the first-round pick it took for the Rams to acquire him back in May.

Donald’s nine sacks rank second among defensive tackles. His Pro Football Focus (subscription required) rating of 29.8 through 16 weeks ranked first at the position.

Given the easy transition that Donald has made from college stud to NFL star-in-the-making, it’s also hardly a big surprise that Donald earned a DROY nod from our experts.”

Preseason Winner: Jadeveon Clowney, OLB, Houston Texans (nine votes)

Midseason Winner: C.J. Mosley, LB, Baltimore Ravens (eight votes)

As mentioned earlier, nothing is official just yet as the PFWA and AP haven’t cast their votes, but with three highly acclaimed outlets having Donald as their defensive rookie of the year, especially one as credited as The MMQB, it would seem fair to assume that the Rams defensive tackle is a heavy favorite.