Aaron Donald is widely considered the best defensive player in the NFL. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is convinced he may be the league’s best overall player.
Phillips has never been one to be boastful of his players. However, he did not hold back when discussing Donald’s status among the NFL’s elite, according Cameron DaSilva of Rams Wire:
“Aaron is the best player in the league. That’s why, he has success against anybody. The best defensive lineman in the league. He’s just hard to stop. He got pressure on Drew Brees. Drew Brees threw it fast, but he got pressure on him,” Phillips said in his press conference Thursday. “I think anybody that looked at the film would say, ‘Hey, that guy had a good game.’ Even though we lost, he’s going to have a good game almost every game against anybody. He’s a force. Like I always said, he’s better than the rest of them.”
Phillips’ comments should come as no surprise. As a defensive coordinator, he does not undersell the value of players on his side of the ball. While he understands such titles usually go to quarterbacks and running backs, there is an argument to be made for Donald as the NFL’s best overall player.
Donald is among the league leaders in virtually every relative statistic to defensive lineman and pass rushers. He currently ranks second in the league in sacks with 10. He is tied for first with 13 tackles for loss and has applied more pressure on quarterbacks than any other player in the league thus far. In today’s predominantly pass-happy NFL, those that are able to rush the passer are arguably the most valuable players on the roster outside of the quarterback.
Although Donald will likely never get any hype for an MVP award, those that have seen him firsthand will not argue that he is the most dominant player in the league. Even Phillips was somewhat hesitant to refer to him as such upon his arrival. Of course, that may have had to do with Donald not being with the team over the last two offseasons due to contract negotiations. Fortunately, he has still managed to give the Rams plenty of bang for their buck despite being the second-highest-paid defensive player in the NFL.