Aaron Donald’s scouting report might be the worst you’ve ever seen

If there’s one thing we know about evaluating NFL draft prospects, it’s that nobody really knows anything. You do this long enough, and you’re going to swing and miss. I, for example, was sure that Aaron Curry was going to be the next LaVar Arrington.


That said, there are some prospects who do enough on collegiate fields to make them seemingly ding-proof. Pitt’s Aaron Donald, who retired today after a remarkable 10-year career with the Los Angeles Rams, was one such prospect. I mean, look at these plays from his Pitt career and tell me that No. 97 didn’t have a more than reasonable chance in the pros.

As if Donald’s 29.5 sacks and 66 tackles for loss in his four collegiate seasons weren’t enough (his 29 tackles for loss in 2013 ranked first in the entire NCAA, and he ranks fourth all-time in TFL), there was the sheer brutality he unleashed at the 2014 Senior Bowl.

What about his combine measurables, you ask? Well, Donald couldn’t help the fact that he stood 6-foot-1 and weighed 285 pounds with short arms and small hands, but everything else looked like science fiction.

Still, there were those who were unmoved. Those unmoved included the shot-callers for the 12 teams that passed on Donald in the 2014 draft, and probably all regret it to this day.

Those unmoved also included former analyst Nolan Nawrocki, most famous for his incendiary scouting reports of Black quarterbacks (most notably Cam Newton and Geno Smith). Fortunately,’s current draft scouting department is run by actual professionals like Lance Zierlein and Chad Reuter. It’s not that Nawrocki got his Aaron Donald scouting wrong; it’s just how unbelievably wrong it turned out to be.

Short, scrappy, instinctive, highly productive defensive lineman who does not look the part, but inspires confidence he can be an exception to the rule. Is the type you root for and has the quickness, athleticism and motor to earn a spot as a rotational three-technique in a fast-flowing 4-3 scheme.

An exception to the rule? The rule of what? Smaller defensive tackles kicking the asses of every offense they faced at the NFL level? Hall of Famer John Randle, all 6-foot-1 and 290 pounds of him, would be flabbergasted to hear such a thing. Hall of Famer Steve McMichael, who played at 6-foot-2 and around 270 pounds, might object as well. How about six-time Pro Bowler La’Doi Glover, who stood 6-foot-2 and weighed 285 pounds and went to the Pro Bowl in 2008 as a freaking nose tackle? And Bills tackle Ed Oliver, who somehow managed 11 sacks and 72 total pressures last season despite not looking the part at 6-foot-1 and 287 pounds… well, he’d probably just ride away from Nawrocki on one of his horses.

But wait, as they say… there’s more! Here are the negatives in this scouting report.

  • Marginal height and frame is nearly maxed out

  • Hands are more active than strong — could play with more pop and power

  • Overpowered in the run game and ground up by double teams

  • Gets snared and controlled by bigger, longer blockers

  • Not a two-gap player

  • Has some tweener traits — lacks ideal length and bend to play outside

We’re sure the Rams were concerned all the time about the fact that Donald’s frame was “maxed out.” As for his hand strength, ask the literally thousands of offensive linemen who tried to double-team Donald, only to fail miserably. As far as the two-gap thing, who really gives a crap… but here’s Donald last season in a tight nose shade alignment, beating yet another double-team, and coming down with Indianapolis Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson as the prize.

The “lacks ideal length and bend to play outside” thing is most hilarious. Just ask Zack Martin, the Dallas Cowboys’ nine-time Pro Bowl, seven-time First-Team All-Pro, and future Hall of Famer Zack Martin about that.

But this… well, this is the best part without question.

I’ll give you this, Mr. Nawrocki — it takes some real stones to put your name on that.

So, when you’re reading any one of however many draft scouting reports over the next six weeks (including those from your good friends on the USA Today SMG network), remember that we’re not always going to get it right, but it’s highly unlikely that any of us will release a howler of a report like this. 

Story originally appeared on Touchdown Wire