Possible Pick: Pitt's Donald Fit To Step Right Into 4-3 Scheme

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(Editor's Note: Heading into the upcoming NFL Draft, which begins Thursday, DallasCowboys.com concludes the series with one final look at the prospects and potential fits with the Cowboys. Today's featured player is Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald).

Name:Aaron Donald

Position:Defensive Tackle  

College: Pittsburgh    

Height/Weight:6-1 / 285

Age:22

Honors:Donald took home a plethora of awards in 2013, winning the Outland Trophy, Lombardi Award, Chuck Bednarik Award and Bronko Nagurski Trophy. He was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year and first-team All-American.


Key stat:The defensive tackle practically lives in opposing backfields. Last year, Donald not only recorded 11 sacks, but also had an NCAA-best 28 tackles for loss. For his career, Donald had 66 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and 29.5 sacks.

Where He's Projected:Because of a stellar Senior Bowl week, Donald began his climb from the second-round range all the way to possibly a Top 10 selection. However, the range of 11-15 is more likely for Donald and that's not great news for the Cowboys, who of course sit at 16.

How He Helps the Cowboys:Donald would immediately help the Cowboys as a 3-technique defensive tackle in the 4-3 scheme that can get up the field and rush the passer. This defense lost a Pro Bowler at the position in Jason Hatcher, who recorded 11.5 sacks last year, the most by any Cowboys DT in 31 seasons. Donald would team up with Henry Melton has a dynamic duo for the 3-technique. Drafting Donald likely would keep the Cowboys in the 4-3 scheme for many years to come. [embedded_ad]

Scout's Take: Is one of those players that really jumps out on you when you study his tape. Is always on the move. Attacking, relentless style of play. Shows outstanding initial quickness. Will line up at several different spots along the defensive line. Has played as a nose in a three man line. Has an explosive burst off the ball. Gets off the ball in a hurry. Doesn't play slow. Quick twitch get off. Gets in trouble some when he plays high which is usual for a player with his lack of height. One of his best traits is his ability to chase the ball. When he has to play in space, he makes the open field tackles. Can read blocks quickly and when he sees what is happening in front of him, reacts. Would like to see him play the low block better and not allow the blocker into his legs. Works to keep himself free during a play. Will spin to free himself, stays active. Will fight with his hands, shows quickness with them. Battles blocker as he is moving up the field or down the line. Played with awareness for the screen. Was not fooled. Can redirect and retrace his steps. Plays with power and leverage at the point. Held up against the double team, able to split and work toward the ball. Shows balance, plays on his feet. It was rare that you saw him on the ground. Used the old Reggie White hump move to throw the guard off balance with one arm. Gets held a lot due to his explosiveness off the snap. Can bull rush with power. Good effort on the inside charge, hard to deal with on the move. Can walk the guard back with leverage and power. Makes sudden moves once the ball is snapped. Quick arm over move. Can close the hole or work through the cracks. Will take an inside charge at when he lines up at defensive end. Used on the twist stunt at end. Fluid moving guy. Nice sack in Duke game with an arm over move. His height doesn't make him a fit for all schemes but if you need an explosive, disruptive three technique, he and Dominique Easley of Florida are the best two in this draft.

Bryan Broaddus

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