Greatness is something that is earned. When weighing careers, people tend to value some stats more than accolades and vice versa. As of the writing of this article, Aaron Donald holds the LA Rams career sack record. It is truly a fantastic feat that this beat has reached.
Since entering the league, he has been dominating the league and nobody has been able to stop. When we look at Aaron Donald, people have mixed opinions. There is no doubt in my mind that AD has a bonafide hall of fame career. 3 DPOYs, DROY, 7 pro bowls, 6x All Pro, and all decade honours. Without a doubt he has an incredible resume.
But how great is he when we talk about all time greats. I’ve asked a few people and almost every single one said that he was a top 5 defensive player ever. I believe that is insane. Those people are what you often call casuals or they don’t know NFL history. This article is not going to be me talking about how overrated Aaron Donald is because watching AD is poetry in motion.
Many people in the NFL community believe that he is the greatest of all time. There is no actual true stat that can prove that he is the best defensive player ever. That seems too easy to rebut and prove void. However, there is a potential argument to prove he is the greatest defensive linemen ever. Now the question remains, is the greatest ever?
Where does his greatness rank?
Aaron Donald has done a lot of great things in his career but how does it rank amongst the all time greats? Aaron Donald has three defensive player of the year awards. That ranks T-1st all time among defensive players. He also has 7 CONSECUTIVE pro bowls which is T-56 all time.
Yet arguably his most impressive accolade is his sacks. His 88.5 career sacks is nothing to gloss over. Those sacks rank 89th all time dating back to 1962. Thanks to the pro football reference research team, we can date back to before sacks were officially recorded.
With those stats being in effect, this would mean that Aaron Donald is NOT the all time Rams sack leader. That title goes to Deacon Jones who has 173.5 career sacks!
Is he the greatest?
I believe that due to these stats shown above, he is in fact NOT the greatest defensive linemen of all time. There is no evidence of him being number one. When measuring defensive linemen, all of the important stats and accolades he isn’t ranked one in any stats (beyond being tied in DPOY).
Any team would be more than lucky to have Aaron Donald but if you had the choice to pick a defensive lineman to go first overall in an all time draft, you shouldn’t pick him. People like Bruce Smith have 200 career sacks which is nuts, or Merlin Olsen with 14 consecutive pro bowls, or Deacon Jones who is the true Rams all time sack leader.
There is no doubt that he is a first ballot hall of famer because he has been terrorizing O-Lines since he entered the league. He is the best defensive player in the league right now however he is not in fact the best.