While it appears like Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald won’t win his fourth Defensive Player of the Year honor this season, his impact on the Rams’ defense cannot be overstated. And it’s likely the NFL still doesn’t fully appreciate his overall dominance.
For the sixth time in six seasons, every season since 2016, Donald has finished the regular season as Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded defender — with a 93.6 rating this season.
The highest-graded defender by season since 2016:
🐏 2016 Aaron Donald – 92.6
🐏 2017 Aaron Donald – 94.4
🐏 2018 Aaron Donald – 94.8
🐏 2019 Aaron Donald – 93.6
🐏 2020 Aaron Donald – 94.2
🐏 2021 Aaron Donald – 93.6
— PFF (@PFF) January 12, 2022
PFF may be a hot topic in Pittsburgh right now, but one doesn’t even need to look to analytics to see Donald’s defensive dominance or understand how he’s a once-in-a-generation type of difference-maker.
Donald recorded 84 tackles (36 solo), 19 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, 25 quarterback hits, defended four passes and forced four fumbles this season. Donald has recorded five consecutive double-digit sack seasons despite facing the highest number of double and triple teams in the NFL.
And he’s done it all while working from the interior of the Rams’ defense and not out on the edge or as a linebacker.
Donald will certainly earn his seventh consecutive All-Pro honor at the end of the season, and he’s already been named to the Pro Bowl — continuing a trend of being a Pro Bowler every season in the NFL.
The Rams will take on the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night at SoFi Stadium in the NFL Wild Card Round. The kickoff is scheduled for 8:15 p.m.