KAHUKU, OAHU, HAWAII -- Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald finished his second season as one of the two best defensive players in the NFL. And while that comes with plenty of perks, including a role as a player captain in this year's Pro Bowl, not everything has been easy for Donald.
For example, he has no idea where he's living next season.
"I didn't start looking for places yet," Donald said, unsure of exactly where the newly minted Los Angeles Rams will land in a few months. "They told us to hold on. We still don't know the full scoop in terms of where we'll be in OTAs and stuff. I'll wait a little but -- they told us to wait and they'll let us know from there."
Still, being compared to Texans All-World lineman J.J. Watt is a nice start. Donald has been keeping track of the Texans sack-master and was happy to be named in the same sentence, especially if Watt continues on the same trajectory.
"That's pretty cool. He's one of the best defensive players -- when he's done he'll be considered one of the best defensive players to ever play the game," Donald said. "The things he does, the numbers he puts up, it's hard to do. To put up 20.5 sacks and come back and do 17.5, he's a special player and to have his name associated with mine -- it's pretty cool. I still have a lot of work to do to have my name associated in a conversation with that guy and I gotta continue to put up the numbers to match."
It's pretty incredible to see Donald at this stage so early in his career. A few years ago, he was considered a lukewarm prospect after being selected by the Rams with the No. 13 overall pick. But in a class full of stars -- Odell Beckham, Sammy Watkins, Anthony Barr and Khalil Mack -- Donald may be the most valuable to his current team.
"I never let nothing ever get to me. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion," Donald said when asked about critics who thought he was too small to play in the NFL. "People are going to doubt Aaron Donald and they're going to like Aaron Donald. But at the end of the day, my job is to make plays and let them speak for me. People will change their mind eventually, right?"
Donald's drive is apparent, with or without a zip code cemented in stone just yet.