PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 24: Aaron Donald #97 of the Pittsburgh Panthers sacks Gary Nova #15 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during the game on November 24, 2012 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
The Cowboys’ desire for defense in the upcoming NFL Draft is sharpening its focus this week at Valley Ranch as top prospects roll in for visits.
UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr is expected to meet with the Cowboys today, Florida State defensive lineman Timmy Jernigan later this week and yesterday it was Pittsburgh defensive lineman Aaron Donald’s turn.
Though Donald, an All-American and the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, plays the same defensive tackle position as new Cowboy Henry Melton, if he’s on the board at No. 16 it would make total sense for Dallas to draft him.
And, in turn, Donald told the team’s official website that he’d love to wear a star on the side of his helmet.
“I had the opportunity to talk to (Cowboys’ defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli) a couple times at the Scouting Combine, I talked to him last night and I talked to him today,” Donald said yesterday to DallasCowboys.com. “He’s a great coach, and just talking to him and looking in his eyes – the way he talks, he’s got a passion for the game of football and he loves the game of football. He loves doing what he does, so that’s a coach I’d love to play for and learn from. Knowing he coached guys like Warren Sapp, that just gets you excited just knowing he’s got history and is one of the best to do it. If I was able to play for Coach Marinelli that would be a blessing, but we’re going to see.”
At 6-feet, 288 pounds with immense quickness and power, Donald fits the mold of the "under tackle" necessary to disrupt offensive rhythm and put the oomph in Marinelli’s Tampa 2 scheme. In 13 games last season, Donald had 28.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks in winning the Outland Trophy as the nation’s best interior lineman.
After the defense we’ve been forced to watch the last couple seasons and with the departure of Jason Hatcher, the Cowboys can’t have too many quality linemen.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.