LA Rams Aaron Donald misses top spot in NFL Top 100

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /

LA Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald misses the top spot in the NFL Top 100

If there is any player in the NFL who performs at a level far better than his peers more than LA Rams‘ defensive lineman Aaron Donald, let that player speak now or hold their peace. But the pageantry, pomp, and ceremony of the annual NFL Top 100 list is as much a popularity contest as it is a subjective estimation of talent.  After all, who is the better artistic group? Fleetwood Mac or Dexty’s Midnight Runners? When “Come On Eileen” was released, many fans would have placed Dexty’s Midnight Runners at number one, simply due to the popularity of their one-hit-wonder.

Such it is among the NFL.  In the “Not For Long” football culture, we applaud the showmanship more than the true impact. How else can you explain the third-place finish for a defensive lineman who generates the top stats in the NFL on a consistent basis, despite attracting the attention of more double-teams than anyone in the NFL?

The flawed list leaves plenty to debate

Lest we appear ungrateful,  Aaron Donald’s ranking at three is in fact the top spot for a defender in this list. And we acknowledge it is flawed, as he was ranked ahead of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who is arguable the best quarterback in the NFL.  Instead, he is ranked number three, behind second-ranked quarterback Russell Wilson and top-ranked quarterback Lamar Jackson.

Of course, rankings exist to incite debate, much like schoolyards were filled with “my dad can beat up your dad!” debates or the more common “my dog can whoop your dog!”  We like to associate with the best, it’s the basic fundamental of competition. Which LA Rams players should have been on the list and where?  Ah, we’ll cover that topic soon. For now, let’s discuss the present and future impacts of LA Rams DL Aaron Donald.

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Aaron Donalds 2020 NFL Season

So where does Donald land in 2020? Well, we’re very bullish on his upside this season. We base our optimism on three factors. First, the defensive line sets the stage for the new defense. In the scheme of Vic Fangio, and now of Brandon Staley, the defensive line is the key to run defense. Defensive linemen take on two-gap assignments and control the line of scrimmage, giving linebackers clear shots at mopping up on tackles.  Second, the Rams defensive line is better this year. That is why the Rams got strongman A’Shawn Robinson to anchor at nose tackle, giving Donald and  Michael Brockers the defensive end assignments. In fact, the Rams return all their 2019 players, and added Robinson, making in the only top-four defensive line to get better from last season.

Thirdly, Donald can have a monstrous season this year. Keep in mind that defensive coordinator Brandon Staley is designing this defense to amplify the impact of his starts. That is why Jalen Ramsey is eager to assume his new role in the Staley defense. Featuring Donald as a part-time run stopper, and part-time pass rusher will give the team some flexibility as to how Donald lines up. Imagine stacking him up over the center next to Robinson, shooting through A-gaps, and crushing the quarterback for the sack in less than 1.5 seconds? Or pushing him out to the edge, where the tight end must decide to block him on his way for a sack or try to run the route knowing he has 2.5 seconds before the quarterback is dumped?

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In many ways, the Rams defense can unlock Donald’s brutal physicality on opposing offenses. Donald’s ceiling is sky-high in 2020. He’s a veteran about to face unprepared offensive linemen. This ought to be good.