Reese's Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage sees Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald as a top-50 draft choice after the 6-1, 290-pounder dominated drill work at Senior Bowl practices. On Wednesday, Savage echoed the sentiments of NFL scouts who raved about Donald's performance in Mobile, naming him as the North squad's top defensive lineman.
"Frontside blocks can be problematic due to his overall girth, but when he attacks with his hands on the inside, he can separate and make tackles," Savage said. "On the backside of blocks, he simply is too athletic to be cut off and will track down ball carriers down the line of scrimmage. His pass-rush technique is outstanding, and he should be able to contribute on sub downs immediately as a rookie."
None of NFL Media's draft analysts have Donald being chosen in the first round (32 picks). If Savage's top-50 assessment is accurate, Donald figures to be chosen at or near the top half of the second round.
Savage ranked Minnesota's Ra'Shede Hageman as the second-best defensive lineman on the North squad, projecting him as an NFL starter within two years. At 6-6, 318 pounds, Savage described Hageman as "scheme-friendly for all 32 clubs." Hageman came up on the short end of 1-on-1 pass rush drills, losing nine of 15.
"Very athletic," Savage said of Hageman. "When he does it the right way in terms of technique, he is really an unstoppable force."
Among scouts who spoke with College Football 24/7, Donald and Hageman were by far the most impressive defensive linemen on the North team, and perhaps two of the top three in the entire game, along with Auburn defensive end Dee Ford.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.