For the third time in his NFL career, former Pitt star and current Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald has been named the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
In a close vote, Donald edged out Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end T.J. Watt by a vote of 27-20, with Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard also receiving three votes. Donald becomes just the third player in NFL history to win this award three times, joining Houston Texans J.J. Watt and Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor. Donald joins Hall of Famer Joe Greene as the only defensive tackles to win the award multiple times.
The 29-year old finished the season with 13.5 sacks, 12 tackles for loss, an NFL-leading 76 pressures, 4 forced fumbles and 26 quarterback hits.
Aaron Donald, the Best.
— Pitt Football (@Pitt_FB) February 7, 2021
In terms of sacking the quarterback, Donald’s 85.5 sacks through his first seven seasons are third most all-time, trailing only Reggie White (110 sacks) and DeMarcus Ware (99.5). Despite getting double-teamed on a league-high 70% of his pass-rush snaps, no one in the NFL consistently pressured the quarterback like the Donald. Since 2016, he’s pressured the opposing quarterback 456 times, the next closest player has 302 pressures.
This is the third time in the last four seasons that Donald has won this award.