Aaron Donald. Nuff Said.
Every so often, it’s good for us to watch the best players on tape. It can be very instructive to understand what makes them so dominant in their field.
For Aaron Donald of the L.A. Rams, what makes him so disruptive as an interior pass rusher is that he has great feet and great hands. By being able to use them together, Donald is able to put tremendous pressure on pass protectors and win individual matchups with regularity.
This particular clip is a great watch, because he’s matched up against Joe Thuney, who is no slouch in his own right. Yet Donald is able to completely dominate this rep.
As always, a great pass rush starts with a great plan, and Donald has a great sequence of moves here. He starts with an inside-out stutter to freeze Thuney’s feet and entice him to lunge. Once Thuney is off-balance, there is an edge there for Donald to exploit. This is where his hands come into play. Donald knocks away Thuney’s inside hand and, before the blocker is able to recover, captures his outside shoulder. Again, because the hands and feet are working together, Donald is able to win pretty cleanly.
Cam tries to climb the pocket to avoid the pressure but Donald redirects and is able to get to the QB just in time to knock the ball loose with the strip-sack.
Many players excel with great footwork. Many more know how to play with their hands. But the ability to work them together to consistently win these 1-on-1 matchups is what makes Aaron Donald a joy to watch and a nightmare to block.