Donald, who measured a quarter-inch under 6-foot-1 and 286 pounds at the combine, is the No. 1 defensive tackle on NFL Media draft analyst Mike Mayock's updated position rankings, and after a steady stream of "he's too short for the NFL" comments, Donald now seems to be a sure-fire first-rounder. But don't expect him to relax.
"When I'm retired someday, when I'm done playing football, that's when I'll be relaxing and look back at some things," Donald told PantherLair.com, a website that covers Pitt athletics. "But right now I still have a lot of work to do."
He trained for the combine in Arizona, but will be spending the next two months in and around Pittsburgh, his hometown. He said he is looking forward to more interviews with teams. One aspect he will be selling in his face-to-face meetings is his versatility. He has played all over the defensive line -- end, tackle and nose tackle. He had 11 sacks playing end in a 3-4 set as a sophomore in 2011 and 11 playing tackle in a 4-3 alignment as a senior in 2013. He also had a nation's-leading 26.5 tackles for loss in '13, an incredible amount for an interior lineman.
"I have experience at every position," he told PantherLair.com. "... I think that's a plus for me."
NFL Media draft analyst Bucky Brooks has Donald going to Dallas with the No. 16 pick in the first round, saying new Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli "needs a disruptive three-technique in place to make the Tampa 2 scheme work. Donald is a beast at the point of attack, with a non-stop motor and explosive first-step quickness." Fellow analyst Daniel Jeremiah also has Donald going to Dallas, while Charles Davis has him going 23rd to Kansas City; in Kansas City, Donald presumably would team with rising star Dontari Poe to give the Chiefs a dynamic pair in the middle of their defensive line.
Pitt coach Paul Chryst raved all season about Donald, and he continued to rave during his pre-spring practice news conference last week.
"He was the story of the Senior Bowl. He was one of the stories of the combine. I'm not going to be so arrogant to say he was the story, but he was good enough that people had to take notice of it."