Top 30 Draft Selections in St. Louis Rams History

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Sep 13, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald (99) celebrates with teammates after sacking Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (not pictured) during the second half at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

3. Aaron Donald, DT, Round 1, Pick 13 Overall, 2014

With all-time Rams greats like Laurinaitis and Jackson having already taken their spots on this list, it seems strange to award a Top 3 spot to a player like Aaron Donald who was drafted just last year. Donald deserves every bit of his positioning here, though, as he’s already established himself as one of the top two players in the league at his position. In an era where interior pass rushers are at a premium like they never have been before, with Houston’s J.J. Watt widely considered to be the league’s best player, Donald has already earned the respect of fans, media, coaches, and players throughout the league through just less than two full seasons.

Donald, who drew pre-draft concerns from evaluators because of his undersized 6-foot-1, 285-pound frame, fell to the Rams at pick 13. The Rams had already satisfied their most pressing need, offensive line depth, by taking Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson with the second overall pick, so they decided to upgrade their already-elite defensive line with their second first-rounder by taking Donald.

In a rather odd sequence of events, Donald didn’t start during the first four weeks of his NFL career, and the Rams defense struggled mightily to get to the quarterback. Shortly after Donald got into the lineup, however, he began making life miserable for offensive guards on a weekly basis, and he averaged nearly a sack a game from Week 6 on, finishing with nine sacks and 47 tackles for the season. He earned his first Pro Bowl berth following the season, becoming the first Rams rookie to attend the postseason All-Star game since Jerome Bettis in 1993.

After a little bit of a midseason dry spell in 2015, Donald has heated up through the later weeks of the season, and he now has eclipsed his 2014 highs, having collected 11 sacks and 64 tackles through 14 games. Donald’s certainly earned a second straight Pro Bowl appearance, and he’s got to at least be in the discussion for Defensive Player of the Year.

Especially due to his compact frame, Donald is going to have to avoid injuries and wear-and-tear, but it’s easy to see a scenario where he could become the best defensive player in franchise history if he keeps up this insane level of production for the next several years.

Next: 2. Torry Holt