LA Rams Aaron Donald should be favorite for NFL DPOY this year

Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports /

When a defensive player suffers an injury in the NFL Playoffs, is playing for his third defensive coordinator in three years, and is the focus of constant double-teams and triple teams on each and every play, it makes sense for the guy to suffer a down year. But for LA Rams All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald, when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

I won’t begin to explain his motivation, his dedication, his drive, but I can tell you what all of that does on the football field. It delivers such an explosive player that he has defeated three offensive linemen on one play, and made the quarterback sack before any of his teammates.

You just can’t teach what Aaron Donald does on the football field. In fact, you can’t replicate it. His magical mystical quality on the football field is not that he does it at all, but he is known to be the best at it, and nobody, no pair, no trio, no quartet can stop him. All the while, in the Fantasy-Football-driven NFL, the guy continues to put up statistics to satisfy the casual fan.

Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles Rams /

Los Angeles Rams

Let’s not pretend that offensive coordinators and quarterbacks do not know where Aaron Donald is at all times, or that they run their game plan as plain as if they were facing any other defense. They don’t. Offenses will pit two blockers on Donald, and then move the quarterback pocket in the other direction. They use every trick in the book, including misdirections, screen passes, reverse runs, sweeps, anything to tire out Donald’s relentless attack.  And yes, sometimes the play succeeds. But Donald will get his too.

Each year, a new wave of defensive players take aim at the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Each year, they end up a tad disappointed. Aaron Donald is the NFL’s gold standard on defense.  He is not only one of the most powerful players in the NFL, but he has combined that raw strength with the agility of a martial arts expert and the footwork of a prize-fighter boxer. He remains at the top of his game because he constantly strives to become the best version of himself.

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The race to this year’s NFL Defensive Player of the Year is not against Aaron Donald from last season, but rather against the better, stronger, faster version from this year.  If someone wasn’t good enough to best Donald before, don’t count on them doing so this year. They may be better, but so is All-Pro Aaron Donald.