As I mentioned last week, the Senior Bowl is one of the most important postseason events for NFL teams. It's the last time the scouts/media/coaches/teams get to see anyone play football before making draft selections. My first one was in 2014 which seems like forever ago, but with the Divisional round playoffs taking place this weekend, it reminded me of my favorite Senior Bowl story.
I was walking through the second floor lobby of the Renaissance Hotel, which is the epicenter of EVERYTHING happening at the Senior Bowl. Sure, the play on the field matters, but say to anyone that's been to the Senior Bowl "second floor Renaissance" and they'll know exactly what it means. Each morning, the Senior Bowl staff put out dozens of a certain favorite Southern donut company. I never saw anyone ever take one, but by the end of the day about eight dozen boxes were just obliterated. So, I walked up at some point when it was a bit quiet and thought about snatching one. I noticed that as I was walking to the table a well built guy was walking about ten feet in front of me. Now, when I tell you he was well built, I mean like a brick house. He must have realized that he was not going where he needed to and immediately turned back in the other direction, like right at me.
That was the first time that I had seen Aaron Donald up close.
The thing that really stood out was that he looked me right in my eyes. By that, I mean, he was exactly my height (6-0) and I was floored. He had just strung together one of the greatest college seasons in the history of the game. His whole season flashed in my mind...AND HE'S SIX FEET TALL?!? He sees me, nods and keeps walking like he's on a particular mission. I kept muttering to myself, he's only six feet tall.
So, we all traveled over to Ladd Peebles Stadium for practice and I settled up on the fence near the offensive/defensive linemen. I saw one of the more prominent college head coaches who I'd known a little bit over the years. I moved in next to him and started talking to him about his players. He had an offensive lineman at the Senior Bowl and he pointed at him and went
"That guy is probably a top 25 pick."
I'm telling you within 15 seconds of him saying that, his guy went against Aaron Donald and got DESTROYED by the future two time NFL Defensive Player of the Year. I mean, absolutely crushed. We kept talking about various things, all the while keeping an eye on the proceedings. Donald went on to do it again to that coach's guy and every single other offensive lineman on site.
Near the end of the period, the coach said to me "who was that guy from Pitt?"
I remember writing down in my practice observations "Aaron Donald is ruining dudes' draft stock."
He still does that to this day, it's just that it's in the NFL. Since he got into the NFL in 2014, Donald has destroyed everything and everyone in his path, just like he did at the Senior Bowl seven years ago. He'll lead the underdog Los Angeles Rams into the Divisional round against the Green Bay Packers on Saturday.
What player will have the buzz in Mobile like Donald? Will that player end up on the Texans roster? It starts in 15 days. Let's GO!!