Few players in the NFL require the opposing team to come up with a game plan completely centered around stopping them. Patrick Mahomes is probably one of them. DeAndre Hopkins and Julio Jones might be a couple of others.
But when it comes to the defensive side of the ball, Aaron Donald requires the full attention of opposing coaches, offensive linemen and quarterbacks, each week. He’s simply that good.
Aaron Rodgers knows all about Donald’s ability, having played against him last season. In the Rams’ Week 8 win over the Packers, Donald sacked Rodgers twice, hit him four times and recorded two tackles for loss. He generated consistent pressure on Rodgers, flushing him from the pocket and disrupting his timing.
Rodgers recently put Donald in the same class as Charles Woodson. Rodgers told Chris Simms of NBC Sports that Woodson’s 2009 season is “one of the greatest seasons I’ve ever seen.”
“What he did on defense, just impacting the game, I’ve never seen a player impact the game like that until Aaron Donald. Literally, your entire game plan is stopping him,” Rodgers said. “That’s all you think about. Where’s 99 going? Are we sliding to him? Are we inserting? We gotta slow him down. He’s that dominant and I’ve never seen a guy that dominant who’s not – he’s physically unbelievably strong, but he’s not like imposing. Like Charles was a big corner, [Julius] Peppers is a giant of a human. Donald, he’s not like a guy you walk on the field and go ‘whew.’ But you play him and he’s incredible. Incredible.”
Rodgers has seen a lot of great defensive players in his career, but Woodson and Donald clearly stand above the rest. Woodson is a Hall of Famer and although he played a completely different position than Donald, their ability to wreck an offensive game plan is very similar.EmailSign up
Fortunately for Rodgers, he won’t have to face Donald again in 2019 unless the Packers and Rams meet in the postseason – a very real possibility.