Aaron Donald speaks at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys Draft Rumors: Huge interest in Aaron Donald


The Dallas Cowboys need to add a big-time difference-maker on defense in the 2014 NFL Draft, and it will be interesting to see which position they decide to upgrade with the 16th overall pick. They could go for a top safety if Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is available, and an upgrade at the defensive end position can’t be ruled out. But even though they were able to sign star defensive tackle Henry Melton in an utter coup this offseason, the Cowboys are expected to go with a defensive tackle, as there is a talented crop of players available at the position.

While Louis Nix is a strong option and a few people would mention Timmy Jernigan in there (I honestly wouldn’t, but that’s because I view him as an early second-rounder), the best bet for the Cowboys at DT would be Pittsburgh Panthers product Aaron Donald. According to draft insider Tony Pauline, the New York Giants and Chicago Bears will, unsurprisingly, show interest in Donald, and he adds that the Atlanta Falcons could even consider him with the sixth overall pick. Thus, Donald probably won’t last until the 16th pick after his incredibly dominant 2013 season (best defensive player in college football), but there’s always a chance.

If he does fall to the Cowboys, then Pauline writes that it would be a “manna from heaven”. He reports that Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, who surely knows a thing or two about DTs, told Donald that he would like to draft him. One of the top ten most talented players in this draft, the only knocks on Donald are size-related. He may get pushed a bit in the running game, but he’s an excellent pass rusher who would form an elite pass rushing duo with Melton at the heart of the Cowboys defense.


Tags: Aaron Donald Dallas Cowboys Football NFL Draft Pittsburgh Panthers Rumors

  • David

    To much chatter about him. I bet its a smoke screen for trade bait.

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      I don’t think it’s a smokescreen for trade bait, since he probably won’t be there at 16. Trading down is probably the wisest move for the Cowboys, because they could add a few solid players for the price of that pick if they can find a willing trade partner. Cowboys need overall talent on that defense, so it would make sense for them to finally build a well-rounded roster in this manner.

      • David

        I am only good for trading down if Barr, Pryor and Dix are all gone.

  • Earl Robertson

    Don’t see him lasting to 16th and I don’t want cowboys to trade a 2nd round to get him

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      I think/hope most people recognize that he probably won’t be there at 16, and that’s why Pauline described this hypothetical situation as a “manna from heaven”. And I totally agree with you, it wouldn’t make sense for a team peppered with holes on defense to trade up and sacrifice another high pick.

  • Chad

    All we can do is hope and pray that one of the top need fillers slip through the cracks and land in our lap. For me, if Barr-Donald-Martin-Pryor-Lewan are off the board by 16, we trade back and get the extra pick/s.

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      I like the trade down theory, and you can check my reply to David for my thoughts on that. I’m a bit iffy about drafting Barr, and I think Pryor is a reach at 16. If you want a S at 16, then Clinton-Dix makes the most sense with Ward as a possible pick if you love him. But then again, you could trade down and pull Ward or Pryor later on in the first.

      • David

        How could you be iffy about drafting Barr? And Pryor is regarded in the top 20 overall players on most scouts, former players and gm’s big boards. Pryor will be gone by 20 at the latest.

        • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

          I’m iffy on Barr as a prospect because he’s very much a boom-or-bust player. There’s little doubt that he has elite physical tools, but he isn’t close to putting it all together yet. I’d take him at 16 due to his upside, but I also wouldn’t take him over Donald. As for Pryor, I personally think he’s a bit of a reach in the top 20, but he has such good physical tools that I could also see him taken there. I don’t think it will happen, but it’s a possibility, especially since teams love tools and upside.

          • David

            You could say the exact same thing about Donald. And again Pryor is in the top 20 players of every analyst that was a former player, scout or gm.

          • Chad

            I look at the safeties like this: There is a very good chance that Philly goes safety in the first, and let’s theoretically say that they get the option between Clinton-Dix / Pryor / Ward……out of those 3, Pryor is the one I’d like to face the least twice a year.

          • David

            So you want to face the guy thats the hardest hitter and yet can still cover and play the centerfield FS spot as good as the other guys twice a year???

          • Chad

            Re-read. I said, “Pryor is the one I’d like to face THE LEAST twice a year.”

          • David

            Sorry my bad. I was in a hurry this morning taking kids to school..I agree with you.

  • NYCowboysFan

    Claiborne was called the best defensive player in the draft too. How’s that working out?

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      What does he have to do with Donald or any prospect in this year’s draft? Busts happen, and I’m sure somebody else would have taken Claiborne high. Not many people called him being a bust, so it’s unfair to be overly critical in retrospect.

      • NYCowboysFan

        It’s pretty simple. Donald is being called the best defensive player in the draft? Just saying, be careful, learn from past mistakes. Bring them in, talk with them, get a feel, and make better decisions. Draft intelligent passionate football players not idiots like DeShaun Jackson or Aldon Smith.

        • David

          Who is calling Donald the best defensive player in the draft????

          • NYCowboysFan

            The story that we are commenting on called him the best defensive player in college football. I don’t agree with it, I’m just saying beware.

          • David

            Ok I dont agree with that either.

          • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

            “NYCowboysFan”, we need to clarify things big time. I said he was the best defensive player in college football in the piece above, but that was located in parentheses after my statement that he had an incredible 2013 season. Thus, the line about him being the best defensive player implies that he was the best defensive player in college football last year. And he was. He was the most productive player on defense last season, as evidenced by the numbers he put up as an interior pass rusher, and he won the Lombardi, Chuck Bednarik, Bronko Nagurksi, and Outland trophies, with the Bronko Nagurski going to the best defensive player overall.

            Is he the best defensive player in the draft class? No way, and I never said that, okay? There’s a big difference between being the best defensive draft prospect (Clowney) and being the best player in college football for the 2013 season. I just want to make that clear, as I did not state he is the best draft prospect or is better than Clowney or Khalil Mack, who are the best two defensive prospects in the class.

            But Aaron Donald is very good, and if he busts it will be because of run defense and size/strength issues and not a lack of character.

          • NYCowboysFan

            Sounds like someone needs a hug.

          • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

            Haha sorry, I just get flustered when that stuff happens, because I get upset that I didn’t do a good enough job of explaining what I meant. Sometimes I rely too much on trying to imply certain things, and it just doesn’t work out that way.

            So anyway, who do you think the Cowboys should take at 16? This thread has given me a great chance to get some quality crowdsourcing in on what the diehard Cowboys fans think their team should do in the first.

          • NYCowboysFan

            No problem. You did a great job. We need so much help that it probably doesn’t matter who we take. I have a lot of faith in Marineli with the DL so I would like a safety or OL I guess. We need to het the running Game on track.

          • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

            I feel like safety is the Cowboys biggest position of need, since it’s all about getting better coverage ability out of the deep end of the secondary. Clinton-Dix looks like a great fit for the Cowboys on paper, but I’m not sure he lasts that long. Need at S is so big that Pryor is definitely in the mix. I wouldn’t take him that high, but he’s a real possibility.

  • baronmwd

    I would pee my pants if Donald was there at 16

  • Tracyl

    Lets face it. Everyone talks about trading down if certain players are not there. But you need a trade partner that is willing to trade with you to actually trade down. t worked out last year but there is not always someone willing to make that move. For all we know the Cowboys could get stuck at 16 and have to just take the BPA. I hate to say it but if those other guys are gone I would take Ealy over a safety like Pryor or Dix. They all have great upside but we do need a difference maker on the line at end now more than any other position. Ealy could possibly be that guy. And we still don’t really know what we have in Wilcox yet. He was just getting his feet wet last year and showed some flashed. I think he will blossom this year under Marinelli.

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      I agree (hope I made that clear in an earlier comment) that it will be difficult to find trade partners in such a deep draft, so obviously there has to be a concrete plan at 16. Ealy is a strong possibility at 16, but I wouldn’t pass up on Clinton-Dix for him. Heck, I might even take Pryor over Ealy, but that’s a tough call.

  • Old Frog

    Well if the lead to this article is accurate, let’s hope every other GM above us doesn’t read it and reem Jerry if he’s tempted to trade up…Which I hope he’s not.