Rams 'feed the beast' with selection of Pittsburgh defensive tackle

News-DemocratMay 8, 2014 

— Despite investing a lot of resources, especially high draft picks, in their defensive line in recent years, the St. Louis Rams couldn't pass up on the chance to get Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

The Rams took Donald with the 13th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft on Thursday night.

"Feed the beast," Rams general manager Les Snead said of adding another defensive linemen.

The Rams took defensive end Chris Long with the No. 2 overall pick in 2008, defensive end Robert Quinn with the 14th overall pick in 2011 and defensive tackle Michael Brockers with the 14th overall pick in 2012.

The Rams also have veteran defensive linemen Kendall Langford and William Hayes.

"I'm real excited ... best defensive line in football," Donald said. "I'm pumped up about that."

Rams coach Jeff Fisher said the team had Donald rated among 6-8 players that they really liked at the top of the draft board.

That's why they refused to entertain any trade offers for the 13th overall pick.

"A couple of teams called, but we were set on the pick," Snead said. "We were jacked that he was there, so it was, 'Hey, we are not doing anything."'

The knock on Donald coming into the draft was his lack of size, not his lack of production.

The 6-foot-1, 285-pound Donald has been one of the most disruptive defensive players in college football.

Donald had 66 tackles for a loss and 29.5 sacks in his college career.

"He's an outstanding young man," Fisher said. "Way ahead in hand use on the line of scrimmage. He does an outstanding job with his hands."

Donald had 11 sacks and 28.5 tackles for a loss last season. His six tackles behind the line of scrimmage against Georgia Tech set a school record and tied the Atlantic Coast Conference record set by North Carolina's Julius Peppers in 2000 and matched by Clemson's Andre Branch in 2011.

As a senior, Donald was the recipient of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the nation's most outstanding defensive player, Chuck Bednarik Award as the nation's defensive player of the year and the Outland Trophy as the nation's best interior offensive or defensive lineman.

Donald's stock soared after the Senior Bowl practices, where he was practically unblockable.

"He is a guy that scouts like but with his size you have to bring it to your staff and say, 'Does this player fit?"' Snead said. "I think a lot of teams said, Yeah he fits."'

Snead said the Rams don't want Donald to bulk up.

"His game is not size," Snead said. "His game is speed and quickness. Getting bigger really doesn't help him. And, one of the reasons we were fine with pick is that he is short so he always has leverage and he's just a strong kid. He knows how to use his hands and how to get low and take on a double team."

Donald attended Penn Hills (Pa.) High School, where he had 63 tackles, including 15 for a loss, and 11 sacks as a senior.

Donald's brother, Archie, had 424 tackles during his career as a linebacker at Toledo from 2006-10.

Contact reporter Steve Korte at skorte@bnd.com or 239-2522.

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