|No. 99 - Los Angeles Rams|
|Born:||May 23, 1991|
|Height:||6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)|
|Weight:||280 lb (127 kg)|
|High school:||Penn Hills|
|NFL Draft:||2014 / Round: 1 / Pick: 13|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics as of 2020|
|Player stats at NFL.com · PFR|
Aaron Charles Donald (born May 23, 1991) is an American football defensive tackle for the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Pittsburgh, where he was recognized as a unanimous All-American and was drafted by the Rams with the 13th pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Donald has been selected to seven Pro Bowls in his seven years into the league, won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and has been named AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year thrice, having won it back-to-back in 2017 and 2018, and again in 2020. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest defensive players of all time.
A native of Pittsburgh, Donald grew up as one of three children in a working-class family in the city's Lincoln-Lemington-Belmar neighborhood. His father Archie introduced Aaron to workouts, seeking to provide more structure in his son's life. Aaron himself would later admit that he was "lazy as a kid". By age 14, he and his father woke up at 4:30 am and worked out for nearly two hours in the basement gym that Archie installed in the family home.
Donald attended Penn Hills High School, where he played high school football for head coach Ron Graham. He was selected first-team All-State Class AAAA in each of his final two seasons, and compiled 63 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, and 11 sacks as a senior. He also started at offensive guard.
Considered a three-star prospect by Rivals.com, he was rated as the 37th best defensive tackle in the nation. He committed to hometown Pittsburgh over other scholarship offers from Toledo, Akron, and Rutgers.
As a true freshman, Donald played in all 13 games as a reserve defensive end. He recorded 11 tackles, including three for loss, and two sacks. In 2011, as a sophomore, Donald moved into the starting lineup, and turned in a breakout campaign. He recorded 47 tackles, including 16 for loss, 11 sacks and one forced fumble, and was named a second-team All-Big East selection. As a junior, he recorded 64 tackles, including 18.5 for loss, 5.5 sacks, and one forced fumble, earning first-team All-Big East honors. In his senior season, he became one of the most productive defensive players in the entire NCAA. He posted 59 tackles, including a career best 28.5 for loss, 11 sacks, and four forced fumbles. He was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year and was a unanimous All-American.
At the NFL Combine, Donald set the record for fastest 40-yard dash time for a defensive tackle with a 4.68. The record previously held by Tank Johnson, who ran a 4.69 in 2004. He drew comparisons to John Randle afterwards. Donald was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the first round with the 13th overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft.
|Height||Weight||Arm length||Hand size||40-yard dash||10-yard split||20-yard split||20-yard shuttle||Three-cone drill||Vertical jump||Broad jump||Bench press||Wonderlic|
|6 ft 0+3⁄4 in
|9 ft 8 in
|All values from NFL Combine|
On June 16, 2014, the Rams signed Donald to a four-year, fully guaranteed $10.13 million rookie contract. The contract also included a $5.69 million signing bonus and a fifth-year option.
Donald made his NFL debut in the season-opener against the Minnesota Vikings and finished the 34-6 loss with four tackles. In the next game, he recorded three tackles and his first NFL sack during a 19-17 road victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On October 13, 2014, Donald was given his first career start against the San Francisco 49ers and finished the 31-17 loss with four solo tackles.
Donald finished his rookie year with 48 tackles, nine sacks, two forced fumbles, and a pass deflection in 16 games and 12 starts. He was one of five rookies selected to the 2015 Pro Bowl. Donald won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award and was named to the NFL All-Rookie Team.
In 2015, Donald began the season as the Rams' starting defensive tackle. During the season opener against the Seattle Seahawks, he finished with nine total tackles and two sacks, helping the Rams win 34-31 in overtime. Donald was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for the first time in his NFL career for his performance. During Week 14, he made five tackles and a career-high three sacks in a 21-14 victory over the Detroit Lions. He earned his second NFC Defensive Player of the Week award in 2015 after his performance against the Lions.
Donald finished his second professional season with 69 tackles, 11 sacks, a pass defended, a fumble recovery, and a pass deflection in 16 games and starts. He earned a First Team All-Pro nomination for the first time in his NFL career. Donald was a Pro Bowl selection for the second consecutive season. He was also ranked 14th by his fellow players on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2016.
During the season-opener against the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football, Donald was ejected for making illegal contact with a referee in a 28-0 shutout road loss. Four days later, he was fined $21,269 for unnecessary roughness ($9,115) and unsportsmanlike conduct ($12,154). Three weeks later against the Arizona Cardinals, he had 1.5 sacks, five total tackles, a tackle-for-loss, five quarterback hits, and a forced fumble in the 17-13 road victory. Donald earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week for the third time in his career after his performance. On October 21, 2016, he was fined $18,231 for an unsportsmanlike conduct after committing the penalty during a game against the Detroit Lions. Donald was named to his third straight Pro Bowl and his second First-team All-Pro after recording 47 tackles, eight sacks, five pass deflections, and two forced fumbles in 16 games and starts. He was also ranked 15th on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2017.
On April 12, 2017, the Rams exercised the fifth-year option on Donald's contract. He did not report to training camp and preseason due to a contract extension dispute. Donald accumulated about $1.4 million in fines due to his non-participation, and each game that he missed cost him one game check from his base salary of $1.8 million. On September 9, 2017, Donald reported to the Rams and passed his physical, however, he didn't play in the season-opener against the Indianapolis Colts the next day, which the Rams won 46-9. On December 19, 2017, Donald was named to his fourth straight Pro Bowl. He was also later named a first-team All-Pro for the third time. Donald finished the 2017 season with 41 tackles, 11 sacks, five forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and a pass deflection in 14 games and starts. After a stellar 2017 season, he was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Doanld was ranked #7 by his peers on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2018.
On August 31, 2018, after holding out all offseason, Donald signed a six-year, $135 million contract extension with $87 million guaranteed. The deal made him the highest paid defensive player in NFL history, although Khalil Mack signed a $141 million contract with the Chicago Bears the next day after being traded from the Oakland Raiders.
During a Week 7 39-10 road victory over the San Francisco 49ers, Donald finished with four sacks on quarterback C. J. Beathard, along with nine tackles, six for a loss, and five quarterback hits, earning him NFC Defensive Player of the Week for the fourth time in his career. Donald was later named the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for the month of October after recording eight sacks, 17 tackles, and a forced fumble. In Week 16, Donald recorded seven tackles (four for a loss) and three sacks in a 31-9 victory over the Arizona Cardinals, earning him his fifth NFC Defensive Player of the Week award. His three sacks brought his season total to 19.5, which broke the record for most sacks in a season by a defensive tackle, previously held by Keith Millard with 18.0. Donald added four tackles and another sack in Week 17 against the 49ers and finished the season with 59 tackles, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, a pass deflection, and a league-leading 20.5 sacks in 16 games and starts. He was named NFC Defensive Player of the Month for December, his second such award in the season.
On January 4, 2019, Donald was named to the AP All-Pro First Team, being the only unanimous selection. On February 2, 2019, he was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. Donald joined Lawrence Taylor and J. J. Watt as the only players who have won the award in consecutive seasons. Donald helped the Rams reach Super Bowl LIII after defeating the Dallas Cowboys in the Divisional Round and the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship. In the Super Bowl, he recorded five tackles but the Rams lost by a score of 13-3 to the New England Patriots, with the Patriots offensive linemen (including Joe Thuney) double teaming Donald in order to neutralize his effectiveness which was cited as a key factor in the result. Donald was ranked as the best player in the NFL by his peers on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2019.
During Week 3 against the Cleveland Browns, Donald recorded his first sack of the season on Baker Mayfield in the 20-13 road victory. However, six days after the game, he was fined $21,056 for a roughing the passer hit on Mayfield. Three weeks later against the San Francisco 49ers, Donald sacked Jimmy Garoppolo twice in the 20-7 loss. In the next game against the Atlanta Falcons, he recorded a strip sack on Matt Ryan and recovered the football in the 37-10 road victory. During Week 11 against the Chicago Bears on Sunday Night Football, Donald recorded two sacks, four tackles, and a pass defensed in a 17-7 victory, earning NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors. During Week 16 against the 49ers, he sacked Garoppolo 1.5 times during a 34-31 road loss. Donald was selected for the 2020 Pro Bowl after finishing the 2019 season with 48 tackles, 12.5 sacks, two pass deflections, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery in 16 games and starts.
In the season-opener against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football, Donald recorded his first sack of the season on Dak Prescott during the 20-17 win. Two weeks later against the Buffalo Bills, he recorded two sacks on Josh Allen, one of which was a strip sack that he later recovered during the 35-32 road loss. During Week 5 against the Washington Football Team, Donald recorded four sacks during the 30-10 road victory. He was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance. Three weeks later against the Miami Dolphins, Donald recorded a strip sack on rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa on Tagovailoa's first career passing attempt during the 28-17 road loss. In Week 12 against the San Francisco 49ers, Donald recorded a sack on Nick Mullens and forced a fumble on running back Raheem Mostert that was recovered and returned by teammate Troy Hill for a touchdown during the 23-20 loss.
Donald was selected for the 2021 Pro Bowl after finishing the 2020 season with 45 tackles, 13.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and a pass deflection in 16 games and starts. In the Wild Card Round of the playoffs against the Seattle Seahawks, he sacked Russell Wilson twice during the 30-20 road victory, but suffered a rib injury (later revealed to be torn rib cartilage) in the third quarter that forced him to leave the game. Although Donald would go on to play in the Rams' Divisional Round matchup against the Green Bay Packers, his injury caused him to be placed on a snap count and would hamper him for much of the Rams' eventual 32-18 loss.  On February 6, 2021, Donald was named 2020 NFL Defensive Player of the Year for the third time in four years.
|Led the league|
|NFL Defensive Player of the Year|
|St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams|
|Los Angeles Rams|
Donald's older brother, Archie Jr., had a less successful football career; he was a star linebacker at Toledo who, according to ESPN writer Alden Gonzalez, "bounced around the NFL as an undrafted free agent until retiring in 2012". The brothers, who shared bunk beds in their childhood, frequently thought about one day helping their parents retire, which according to Gonzalez became one of the driving forces in Aaron's career. On April 27, 2020, Donald revealed on Twitter that he had graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in communications.