Long: Aaron Donald is 'best football player in the world'

Print

Leading up to the 2014 draft, questions persisted about Aaron Donald's ability to transition to the NFL game as an undersized defensive tackle, which helped explain why he fell to No. 13 overall.

In hindsight, those questions are cosmically laughable, as Donald has become the best defensive player in the league and arguably the best player in the NFL. Watch any cutup of Donald -- like this one -- and it's comical how easy he destroys grown men.

Those pre-draft questions didn't last but a whisper. As soon as Donald put on pads, it was obvious he was going to be great.

Former teammate Chris Long, who was in St. Louis for Donald's first two seasons, said it was clear from the start of training camp.

"I'd like to credit myself with being the first person to know he was going to be amazing," Long jokingly told Gus Frerotte of the "Huddle Up with Gus" podcast. "We used to joke his rookie camp that he was going to be in the Hall of Fame, but I kind of wasn't joking."

Long called Donald "the best football player in the world, in my opinion."

Long noted that it isn't just the physical attributes, speed, strength, agility, etc., that made Donald exceptional, but the mental acuity and drive to be great are off the charts, as well.

"I've never seen anybody work so hard, who had so much talent and play so violent and play with such tenacity," he said. "This guy would fight you on the field at the drop of a hat, and I respect that about him, and outworks everybody.

"I would be the last person in the film room usually at the end of camp, and I would go in there and watch tape once everybody was at home. I started going in there and opening the door and turning the lights on to find my pen or notebook, and he was in there every night."

In five seasons, Donald has made five Pro Bowls, earned four first-team All-Pros and won back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year awards. He is the reigning NFL sacks leader and is on pace to one day be fitted for a gold jacket.

Print