By MARK SIMON
It’s been three years since the Rams last Super Bowl appearance and Aaron Donald is almost as dominant now as he was then.
It’s fair to call Donald, a four-time Defensive Player of the Year winner, an all-time great. What’s so impressive about him is how much he stands above others at his position, defensive tackle.
Donald has led defensive tackles in our player value stat, Total Points, in each of the six seasons for which SIS has tracked it. This season he finished with 61, 18 points ahead of the next-closest DT, Christian Wilkins of the Dolphins.
The gap between Donald and Wilkins in 2021 was the same as the gap between Wilkins and the player who ranked 10th.
And the gap between Donald and the defensive tackle with the second-most Total Points in the last six seasons (Fletcher Cox) is the same as the gap between Cox and the 43rd-best defensive tackle in that time.
Most Total Points By Defensive Tackle – Since 2016
What makes Donald great is that he gets to the opposing quarterback more than anyone else. His 77 quarterback pressures were the most in the NFL … by 20. In 2018, the season the Rams last went to the Super Bowl, he had 92 and led the NFL by 23.
And what’s most important for a player who is that valuable is that he’s stayed healthy. Donald has played in 127 out of a possible 129 games in his eight-year career and hasn’t missed any games in the last four seasons.
He’ll be on the field again a week from this Sunday. And you’ll want to be watching what he does.
If you want to go more in-depth on Donald, his pressure rate, and the stat Pressures Above Expectation, check out our piece at Sharp Football Analysis on the NFL leaders in expected pressures.