Prior to the start of each new season, ESPN ranks the top 100 players overall in the National Football League. For the most part, players from the Los Angeles Rams are usually not represented on this list.
However, this year, defensive end Aaron Donald was not only the lone Rams player who made the cut, but he also received the No. 3 overall ranking behind Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers.
When breaking down his ranking and overall performance in the league, what makes Donald such an explosive and elite defender begins with a quick first step, according to Rams beat writer Alden Gonzalez of ESPN:
“With a quick first step and lightning-fast hands, Donald creates chaos between the tackles like few ever have. His 28 sacks over the past three years are four more than any other defensive tackle in the game, even while facing constant double- and triple-teams. The Rams will miss Donald’s every-down disruption if his holdout spills into the regular season.”
Donald’s rank went up in the ESPN top 100 from No. 6 in 2016, as he’s continued to make strides each time he steps on the field. The 26-year-old has made the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons and has been named a first-team All-Pro twice.
With only three seasons under his belt, the Rams are hopeful that the best is yet to come from Donald. However, at the same time, this may also be a factor on why he continues to holdout as he looks to obtain a new long-term deal.
Donald is set to enter the fourth year of his rookie contract will pay him just $1.8 million, which also includes a fifth year option worth $6.9 million that Los Angeles had decided to pick earlier this summer. The Rams open the 2017 season on Sept. 10 against the Indianapolis Colts.