Each year, a group of players will get brought up with the same team over and over leading up to the draft. A combination of the player’s talent level, his fit with the team and the team’s draft slot make it convenient to send the same guy to the same team when making mock drafts.
This year, it’s Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald going No. 14 overall to the Chicago Bears.
The talent of Donald is obvious, as noted by Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times. Donald tore up the Senior Bowl, ran a 4.68 second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, as well as impressing in the bench press and three-cone drill.
More obvious than his talent is the potential fit as a three-technique penetrator on the Bears defensive line. Donald led the nation in tackles for loss and sacks per game, and concerns about his relative small stature (6-1, 285 pounds) have lessened as of late.
As for the Bears draft slot, landing in the mid-first round seems reasonable for Donald. CBSSports.com lists Donald as the No. 13 overall prospect and the No. 1 defensive tackle. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay campaigned for the Bears to draft Donald, saying the team’s Plan B would be in “panic” were he to be off the board. DraftInsider.net’s Tony Pauline figures Donald to come off the board anywhere between No. 6 and 16.
NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah is sold on Donald’s pro potential: “I don’t think he really has anything to answer. The only concern you’d have is he’s not a 315-pound guy. But we always talk in scouting: You want a guy to make it through the whole process and check every box.
“He’s dominant on tape. . .. He lives in the backfield as a pass rusher. He’s explosive with his hands, and he’s also able to kind of bend and wrap, and a really dynamic interior pass rusher.”
And, as pointed out by Finley in the article, after losing Henry Melton and Corey Wootton in free agency, Donald would fill the void well and figure to be a key cog in the Bears defensive line for years to come.