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'Appreciate His Greatness': How Do Peers Feel About Rams DT Aaron Donald?

Donald was once again ranked as the league's best defensive tackle.

Respect is earned, not given.

For eight years, Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald has done nothing but earn respect around the NFL, making the Pro Bowl each season and earning first-team All-Pro nods in all but one.

Last season, Donald added another accolade to his never-ending list: Super Bowl champion. Naturally, the Pittsburgh alum ended it in style, heavily influencing Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow on a do-or-die fourth down in the game's final drive.

This offseason, the 31-year-old Donald contemplated retirement but turned the possibility into contract leverage. As such, he'll enter his ninth professional season as the highest-paid non-quarterback in league history, locked up by the Rams through 2024.

While it's not much of a secret, Donald's bank account now reflects his respect inside and outside the league. According to ESPN, Donald was unanimously voted as the best defensive tackle in football by NFL executives, coaches and players.

Zero quotes or argument needed here. Donald got every single first-place vote.

He's a three-time Defensive Player of the Year with 98 sacks in eight seasons. His 26.7% pass rush win rate was nearly seven points higher than that of any other defensive tackle in 2021. And the Rams just gave him $40 million in additional contract money just for being him.

"I just try to appreciate his greatness," an NFC scout said. "But I don't have to play him as a guard." - ESPN's Jeremy Fowler

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Donald has accomplished all that there is to do, other than winning MVP, which hasn't been done by a defender since Lawrence Taylor in 1986. He's cemented himself as one of the top defensive linemen in league history and has Canton calling his name.

And yet, Donald's back. If history once again repeats itself, he'll be voted to another Pro Bowl, be named first-team All-Pro, and finish top-5 in Defensive Player of the Year voting, if not win the award.

But, why? As so many greats have done before him, Donald values team success over personal accolades, and he has one goal on his mind entering the 2022 season.

"I'm locked back in to go get us another ring."

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