Bridging the gap between the casual fan and what would be either a writer, broadcaster, analysts or even "expert", if you want to call them that, can sometimes be tricky. There is all sorts of football jargon and underlying concepts of what's expected that it's easy to talk about something as if everyone understands it when the readers and viewers really don't. That's why there are little tools and tricks to sometimes help visualize a point.
One of those tools is player comparisons or "comps" for short, as you'll read plenty of over the next few months during draft season. Players comps are ways for draft analysts to make it easier for a reader to truly understand where a player might succeed at the next level. For example, if a player is great at breaking tackles and has a determined running style, you could reference in your work that he reminds you of running back Marshawn Lynch. This allows the reader to recollect a Lynch run they've seen before where he almost unrealistically runs through another human being. Then the reader can watch the other player with that in mind and say to themselves "OK, now I see it."
Comps can be good for such occasions, but over the last few years they've become a bit carried away. It seems as though analysts will make wild player comparisons just to try to make a point, when in reality, even though a skill might be there, the level of skill or just how good their NFL comparison is doesn't match up. It's like when you see some Day 3 wide receiver being compared to Antonio Brown just because both might use quick feet as a to attribute. In that sense, the comparison is actually counter productive because you're using a skill gap that is so wide that the related skill trait doesn't paint any clearer of a picture.
And that brings us to the main message of today's piece of #content.
Stop comparing anyone to Aaron Donald, you fools.
Aaron Donald came into the NFL Combine at 6-foot-1, 285 pounds. That's in the 9th percentile in height and the 6th percentile in weight for all defensive tackles in the NFL. If you were to only measure starting defensive tackles, those percentiles would be even closer to zero. You know why? Because there's only one Aaron Donald.
No defensive lineman absolutely dominates the way Aaron Donald does, and I don't even need to preface that with "at his size." He is truly the most dominant force in the game right now, and will absolutely go down as one of the best to ever do it -- not just at his position, in the game entirely.
Donald had two strip sacks against the Chiefs in what was likely the greatest regular seasons game ever played this past Monday night, and his dominance in those stats and around them is proof that he is un-comp-able -- wow, someone pays me to write?
There is a player in college football right now, his name is Ed Oliver, I'm sure you've heard of him, and he's getting some Aaron Donald comps. At 6-foot-2, 280 pounds, Oliver is a great player. He plays the interior defensive line area with dominance, he wins in athletic ways, and shows an ability to get off blocks quick and violently.
But let me be very clear here: don't say he can do what Donald does in the NFL just because they're similar in style like it's a sure thing. It's far from it.
Can you still like Oliver a good deal and not compare him to Donald's impact? Yes, and that's what you should do. Appreciate that Oliver can potentially have a nice impact in the NFL without calling him the next greatest defensive tackle ever. And so help me God if I read anyone comparing anyone other than Oliver to Donald.
The fact of the matter here is that Oliver is even smaller than Donald was coming out, and the long list of players who have had Donald's success, even at his size, is one player long.
I mean that stat is just stupid. It's stupid. Pack it in. The Defensive Player Of The Lifetime Award is all wrapped up.
Donald wins with unbelievable strength, violent hands, great technique, combo moves, top tier awareness, excellent leverage, and a motor that just never quits. Those are all home run traits, and the only reason he can make up for his size the way he does is because he has all of that. He has no shortcomings.
Ed Oliver and every other "small" interior defensive lineman should look at Donald's tape and want to be like him. They should strive to have that kind of technique and be as close to Donald as they can be.
But even though that should always be the goal they chase, they won't get there, and that's OK. Why?
Because there's only one Aaron Donald.