Aaron Donald didn't lead the NFL in sacks, tackles, or forced fumbles (almost). It doesn't matter. Donald is the best defensive player in the NFL. The Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle was officially crowned as such on Saturday when he was named 2017 NFL Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press at the seventh-annual NFL Honors in Minneapolis. Donald plays a position that is one of the most difficult to rack up gaudy numbers, yet he impacts a game more than any other player. He routinely rushes right past opposing linemen, using incredible burst. Double teams struggle to contain him. He plays disciplined, powerful defense, engaging a defender and maintaining a neutral position with the ability to shoot either the A or B gaps, depending on where the ballcarrier heads in a technique called "two-gapping." For those seeking numbers: 32 tackles, 11 sacks, five forced fumbles and one pass defensed (in 14 games). Per Next Gen Stats, he recorded 65 pressures. Pro Football Focus has Donald at 91 total pressures for the season (66 hurries) and rated him as the NFL's most-productive pass rusher. PFF also gave Donald a 99.7 grade -- the best grade for any player in the entire league.
Aaron Donald named NFL Defensive Player of the Year
NFL.com | Feb 3