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Aaron Donald nets Defensive Rookie of the Year honors

PHOENIX -- Jeff Fisher predicted as early as last spring that Aaron Donald would finish this season as the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year.

The Rams coach was dead on.

Donald was announced as the top defensive rookie at Saturday's NFL Honors awards show.

It marks the second-consecutive year that a defensive lineman has taken home the trophy after Sheldon Richardson of the Jets nabbed the award last winter. We give credit to the voters for seeing in Donald one of the league's most disruptive young defensive forces.

Around The NFL handed Donald our highest grade among any defensive first-year player after the run-stuffing terror ranked above Gerald McCoy, Ndamukong Suh and every other defensive tackle, per Pro Football Focus. His nine sacks -- tied for second among all players at his position -- were more than fellow first-round picks Khalil Mack and C.J. Mosley combined.

Both Mosley and Mack were strong candidates to win the award, but Donald's play down the stretch was the difference. After seeing limited snaps early in the year, Donald was leaned on by Fisher as a regular starter over the final three quarters of the campaign. He burned bright on our radar after dropping a hammer on Adrian Peterson in early September. Few players offer this combination of size, speed and raw power.

As part of a fearsome front four that also includes Robert Quinn, Chris Long and Michael Brockers, Donald has the talent to bloom into a legitimate star in St. Louis. He's off to a good start.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast previews Super Bowl XLIX and gives our picks for the big game. Watch the entire show (and Wess eat his softball pants) on NFL NOW.

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