Categorized | 2014 Draft, News

Pittsburgh DT Aaron Donald Says He’s Visited With The Steelers Already


On Tuesday, Pittsburgh defensive lineman Aaron Donald joined analyst Daniel Jeremiah and Curtis Conway in the NFL Network studios to discuss his sensational 2013 season and upcoming visits.

Donald, who considers himself a “well-rounded football player”, said he’s already had a pre draft visit with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“I met with the Steelers just to meet with them,” said Donald.  “I got a meeting with the Rams coming up and with the Cowboys. So them teams, it’s just more of going to see the facility and getting to talk to the GM and him get to know me a little better.”

Even though he’s not really a fit on defense, Donald’s visit with the Steelers is not surprising and he will not count against the Steelers as being one of their outside 30 pre draft visitors they are allowed. Teams are allowed to host as many local players as they want during the pre draft visit process.

In 13 games last season, Donald registered 28.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks. A strong showing at the Senior Bowl has now resulted in him possibly being drafted in the top-ten come May.

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About Dave Bryan

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • 20Stoney

    I absolutely love this guy, but there is no sense in trying to pound a square peg in a round hole.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    This is probably a really stupid question but…

    How is he different from and unable to duplicate James Harrison?

  • Alan Felicia

    IMO, the position they play. Donald is a lineman (played both defensive and offensive line in high school) and lack the agility or athleticism to switch position as a LB. Not saying Donald could try and switch position, but his best chance to play in the NFL is being a lineman.

  • 243546

    Changes are coming on defense. The Steelers don’t have enough experience on defense to play the the same complex scheme that we saw in recent years. Tomlin said the Steelers signed Cam Thomas to play DE, which makes perfect sense if the Steelers are moving to a more hybrid style of defense. Seattle’s defensive line was essentially a 30 front, with a LEO instead of a OLB. Thomas is perfect for the Red Bryant role, and Worilds would be a great fit as a LEO (but as a OLB, not a DE). Donald would fit in that type of scheme, because only two of the D lineman are tasked with 2 gap responsibility, while the weakside DE and LEO only have one cap responsibility.

    The point is, don’t rush to any assumptions about Donald, or how he fits the defense we’re used to seeing, because with all the turn over on defense, I wouldn’t expect to see that scheme any more.

  • chris ward

    Even though Donald isn’t really a fit for the Steelers scheme, he looks great on film and is disruptive at the 3-Tech. Will root for him in his career, being that he is a home grown Pittsburgh kid and he is a really humble athlete.

  • Will Hammer

    this kid can play -draft him

  • Eric MacLaurin

    The position they play in college is about as important as your first job as a kid. It’s a different game for one.

    Donald seems to have Harrison’s size, strength and speed. Why can’t he do the same things beyond the fact that he hasn’t done them yet.

  • Alan Felicia

    They don’t have same size or speed. Donald is nearly 45 lbs heavier and even an older Harrison (aging knees) would be faster… maybe. Donald would need to not only drop his weight but also learn to cover either a RB or TE which he has never done in college (or High School). Not really know why you’re comparing Donald to Harrison. Donald is a very good lineman and will be drafted as a lineman in the NFL. Highly doubt any team will draft him high with the idea of switching him to position Donald has never played.

  • patrick Mayfield

    He’s not even a defensive end in a 4-3 scheme so there will be no tape of him doing anything in coverage. He’s a pass rusher and a run stopper and that’s it on film.

    While his combine numbers show him performing with the agility comparable to a DE that would project to OLB, fact of the matter is he’s carrying almost 50 pounds more than harrison and would tire pretty quickly having to cover TE and RB all day long.

    He stands to be an excellent 3-technique. Why would the FO want to over-pay in the draft to have a chance to see if he can make it as linebacker??

  • Eric MacLaurin

    It looks like Donald is faster, a half inch taller and 10 pounds heavier to me.

    What information are you using?

  • Eric MacLaurin

    50 pounds now.

    Where are you getting your information?

    I think teams can project ability even when it hasn’t been proven as much as you might like.

    I’m not sure what you want from a rolb that he doesn’t give you.

  • 20Stoney

    I don’t think it would be the wisest move to select a 4-3 defensive tackle in the first round with the idea of “maybe” he can play outside linebacker in a 3-4. Maybe he can, but there is a also good chance that he can’t. Harrison was a 235 lb DE in college. Not a 285lb DT. I saw somebody throwing around that 275 number for Harrison a while back. I think that had to be a misprint because there is no way Harrison weighed 275lbs. My eyes tell me that.

  • Brian Tollini

    What exactly constitutes a “local visit”? Obviously Pitt is local, but is it a certain mile radius of the team facility?

  • Alan Felicia

    Yes, perhaps 36 yo Harrison is quite possibly near 275 but I hope you realize that Harrison was much lighter when he was an All-Pro caliber player 6-7 years ago. 275 lbs Harrison would’ve never made that classic SB INT TD return!

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    If he a 4-3 DT WHAT IS THE PROBLEM WITH LEARNING THE 3-4 DT position in pittsburgh hes still very young and can problably catch on more so than hood did

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    Wasn’t yelling didn’t realize caps was on

  • 243546

    Donald accels playing as a 3-technique. The Steelers have a D lineman lined up at the 3-technique a lot.

    The days of a defense being purely a 3-4, or purely a 4-3 are over. Most teams are mixing up 3-4 and 4-3 concepts on a single play. Seattle is just one example, but there are a lot more, but they would have Red Bryant and one of the DT’s playing with 2 gap responsibility on the strong side of the offensive formation, and the LEO and other DT play 1 gap on the weakside. The 49’ers do the same thing.

  • 243546

    Do the Steelers use a 3-technique? The answer is yes, and they do it a lot.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    I should realize that because my eyes should tell me?

    I’m not looking for an argument but I’m also not looking for feeling or assumptions. Even if they are valid or correct I’m looking for facts to form my own conclusions.

    If you are going to say someone is bigger or faster let’s see a link.

  • Alan Felicia

    Read James Harrison’s bio at wikipedia.
    Or Google James Harrison weight.

  • chris ward

    Just based on measurables, he fits better in a 4-3 defense. Steelers DL are usually 6ft5, Keisel and Heyward for example. Donald is 6ft and fits better at the 3-Tech in a 4-3 just IMO. He is a great prospect though.

  • chris ward

    Steelers most of the time have their DE’s in a 5-Tech.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    Thanks for the info

  • Rick Tilves

    Donald ran a 4.75 at the Workouts ! Harrison was Never THAT Fast ! I also think he could PLAY at their DT spot in a 3-4. I don’t Care about his height, weight or any other numbers. HE IS A PLAYER ! Today with the way they Test players Jack Lambert would Never be Drafted ! You can’t measure HEART and WANT TO in a Player.

  • 20Stoney

    He wasn’t talking about him playing a 3 technique. He was talking about him playing outside linebacker.

    I don’t disagree with what you are saying, but you seem to be making an assumption that is what the Steelers have planned on defense. I don’t know that I see coach Lebeau making that kind of radical change at this stage of his coaching career.

  • Alan Felicia

    I think you’re missing the point. The original question was, can Donald switch to OLB and transition to become as good as James Harrison. No one is questioning whether Donald can play in the NFL.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Erin, I don’t think its a stupid question at all. The Steelers have a history of moving players around on defense. They don’t care so much what a guy has done but what he can do.

    I think having Donald lose 15 pounds to play LOLB is a legitimate possibility and here is why…

    1) He is an incredibly conditioned athlete with a high motor. Meaning he can play all 3 downs and not get fatigued. Especially at a lower weight.

    2) He is fast enough to drop into coverage (on certain routes) and has pretty good change of direction. Better than Harrison IMO.

    3) He has the weight and anchor to hold the point on rushing plays. Which is a weakness with many of the LB’s we have drafted.

    4) He has great hand fighting skills when pass rushing, so I don’t believe moving him outside vs longer armed OT’s will be that much of a detriment. If you can shed their hands and get low it actually helps to be shorter and stronger.

    The problem with all of this is that he hasn’t SHOWN he can do it on tape, which is a very high gamble for a first round pick. Of course, Jarvis Jones SHOWED he could do everything on tape, and he struggled significantly on the NFL level his first year.

  • SFIC

    If we played a 43 I would take Donald or Jernigan over all the prospects we are currently haggling about.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    I call it a Gus Bradley’s 4-3 with 3-4 personnels, we actually played this defense quite a lot against the Bengals in 2nd game.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    Bravo, well said. Given it’d be unsual to draft a player like Donald but I do see him being that special player Colbert coverts and not just, he is the player you ought to scheme the defense around. Fortunately we have personnels for it.

  • 243546

    No they don’t. In base, sure. But they play base less than half the time.

  • SFIC

    Good point. Another argument to draft Donald (or Jernigan) is due to the importance of sub-packages which make up approx half of the plays. Both Donald & Jernigan excel in pass rushing and both are fairly good against the run vs zone blocking schemes and the zone read. Sure, both are weak against the run vs power blocking, but still would be valuable on most plays.

  • 243546

    Exactly this! The LEO doesn’t need to be a hand in the dirt D lineman. It would be a great role for Worilds.

    Who knows if this will hold up once camp starts, but Tomlin said that they planned on played Cam Thomas at DE. Thomas compares favorably to Red Bryant, who played DE in Seattle’s front. Monte Kiffin was a big influence on both Bradley and Pete Carroll. I don’t think it would be a stretch to think that Mike Tomlin liked what he saw up there, and is working with Dick LeBeau to put his own twist on the Seattle defense. The Steelers D is to inexperienced to play the style of defense we saw from 2008-2010.

    The Patriots did something similar in 2011. Belichick was forced to play a lot of young, inexperienced guys, which prevented the Patriots from sticking to their 3-4 defense.

  • patrick Mayfield

    “I’m not sure what you want from a rolb that he doesn’t give you.”

    Coverage skills…

  • Eric MacLaurin

    No one said anything about him being as good as James Harrison either

  • Eric MacLaurin

    He’s fast enough to cover. Do you have information that makes you think he would be worse than Harrison?

  • Alan Felicia

    Then what is the point that you’re trying to make? Donald is a very good lineman that may even go first round. Yet, somehow, you feel he can switch position and duplicate James Harrison?

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    No question, we are in the minority on here. Only part that sucks about whole process- keeping Ziggy Hood would have been nicer as a rotation (Cam Thomas ain’t bad but we shall see) the rotations on D-line will be a must. Arguably if this was the reason for Jarvis Jones’ pick, Colbert would look less stupid. In a Gus Bradley’s 4-3 Jarvis Jones would be a very good read and react linebacker. Although I think Timmons will return to WLB in this scheme which leave us with Vince Williams as MLB.

    He is servicable at the position but i’d jump up and down if we got Shazier (not counting out Spence but its hard to trust an investment once it had a career-threatening injury you know?) And Garvin can play in nickel downs.

    That of course if we draft Donald with 1st, trade up to grab Shazier then I’ll be okay with it.

  • chris ward

    Yeah, in sub-packages they change their alignment, but it all depends on the opponent their playing and down and distance. I was replying to they put their DE’s in a 5-tech in base 3-4. Donald is a great prospect, but Steelers DE’s are usually 6ft5, Donald is 6ft. Fits better in a 4-3 scheme just IMO.

  • chris ward

    Yeah, in sub-packages they change their alignment, but it all depends on the opponent their playing and down and distance. I was replying to they put their DE’s in a 5-tech in base 3-4. Donald is a great prospect, but Steelers DE’s are usually 6ft5, Donald is 6ft. Fits better in a 4-3 scheme just IMO.

  • 20Stoney

    Good question

  • Brendon Glad

    I really feel like he will be the pick. I think the Steelers will correctly pray that mack or Watkins slide into 7-10 range…and would attempt to trade up. That won’t happen. Then they would hope Gilbert falls to them outright…that won’t happen. And at that point, I think Donald will be the choice. I think people are discounting Donald as a 3-4 tackle simply because he is SO quick. So of course he looks like a “Warren Sapp-ish” type. But his lower body strength looks like he can be a great 2 gap DT as well. Feel free to chime in Pittsburghers. I really WANT all arguments/agreements on Donald. I live in Lawrence, KS. I am relying on a highlight tape on Youtube, and the combine. So Pitt Panther fans probably can correct me if he doesn’t project as a Steelers 3-4 NT. We already know that his height makes Steelers 3-4 DE very unlikely. So, can he play the nose?

  • Eric MacLaurin

    My point is that Donald is about the same size and a little bit faster than James Harrison. It seems odd to dismiss his skill set as only a DT when Harrison had great success with what appears to be a comparable body and skill set.

  • http://www.thesportsbonanza.com/ TheSportsBonanza

    Thats really funny.. But in all honestly “If anyone” can pull off a 5 technique at his size it would be him. He is strong, physical, disruptive and can draw a double team.

  • 243546

    If this is the direction the defense is heading, then I’m actually more optimistic about the D line. I feel it’s a lot easier to get production from young D lineman, playing in a one gap scheme, versus a two gap scheme. I know Bradley’s scheme uses both, but I think you know what I mean.

    If we applied Bradley’s system to the current roster, Worilds would be the LEO, Cam Thomas is the strong side DE, and Heyward and McLendon would be the DT’s. I think Arnfelt would be able to play in rotation as the weak side DT, because he wouldn’t have to play 2 gaps. Nick Williams is probably still an after thought, because he spent the year on IR. What the Steelers don’t have, is a Micheal Bennett type player. If the Steelers are headed in this direction, then we will probably see them pick up someone who fits that description in the draft. Could be the reason why the Steelers expressed interest in Kareem Martin.

  • Alan Felicia

    Donald is a 285-290 lbs Defensive Lineman (DT, DE). He’s played the position all through college and high school. Harrison was a 235-240 undrafted LB coming out of Kent St in 2002. Scouts thought he was too short to be a LB and too small (240 lbs) to be a lineman. Since Harrison was an afterthought in 2002 Draft, doubt he was invited to the combine nor did he showcase his talent in a pro-day. If you’ve watch Harrison especially his glory years from 2007 thru 2009 and still feel Donald was a bit faster than Harrison, then you’re lost. And if you feel a 285 DT can drop back, cover either a RB, WR, or TE as many times as a LB, then Donald should be a top 3 candidate in this year’s draft.
    Also, if Harrison has truly ballooned to 275 lbs, thus another reason why Pittsburgh shouldn’t bring him back. No wonder he had a lousy year in Cincy.

  • Brendon Glad

    All good points. I just look at his lower body and see a guy who could handle either 2gap NT or 1gap DT with gold-stars. Pretty sure Hampton and Steed both played 1 gap DT in college too. But I’m not sure. And also pretty sure Warren Sapp could have handled 3-4 NT well if that’s the scheme he fell into. So just because Aaron Donald may “personally achieve more” as a 4-3 DT…doesn’t mean he won’t be the best player for the Steelers to select if he’s available. He looks special to me. And I think his quickness is causing fans of 3-4 teams to ignore the power that I saw in his clips. And to your point, on 2nd and long or 3rd down 3+ we frequently are in a 4-2-5, or a 4-1-6. So we are in a 4 man front more often than people who simply “peg us as a 3-4 team” would guess.

  • Brendon Glad

    Tremendous point.

  • Brendon Glad

    I think maybe what he was saying is that supposedly the Steelers use the “zone-blitz”. I haven’t seen much of it in real games in the last few years….but I think that’s maybe what mcLaurin was getting at. If you remember a very key play against NE where Kevin Henry dropped into a zone and pick-sixed a ball late in the season…I think that may be what he’s talking about. I think the Steelers liked Brett Kiesel’s ability to occasionally do that. Frankly, the “zone-blitz” has been absent way more than I’d prefer in recent years. But I like confusion and turnovers.

  • Brendon Glad

    The Henry play may have been Chicago…can’t remember. But I remember it as HUGE, one way or the other.

  • Brendon Glad

    A more recent example was Vince Wilfork getting 2-3 picks in coverage for NE about 3 years ago.

  • 20Stoney

    Thanks! I pride myself on my sense of humor and a strange “use” of quotation marks.

  • Brendon Glad

    Ok, I didn’t read the full thread…my bad…no I don’t see Donald as an OLB. But I still see why mcLaurin is high on him. I am too. But for me it’s at NT. I see the quickness of Vince Willfork, with the potential base of Casey Hampton…but that’s the optimistic side. I can see where he may seem more like a “gap-crasher” due to his quickness. But I’m going on Depot-record as saying I think he would excel at either job (3-4 NT or 4-3 DT)

  • Eric MacLaurin

    My thought is that you feel really comfortable making up information that you like put out as fact.

    I’m happy to look at any of your sources but don’t really care about opinion or impressions.

    Making up readily available facts is bizzare.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    It’s even a leap to say I’m high on him.

    I’m really just confused how a physical clone of Harrison is so readily dismissed.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    There’s the point. Even Tomlin said that they spend tons of time in the Quarters package, so different types can be utilized in some packages. Who knows. Maybe Donald ends up being a great pick.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    It’s a charade, isn’t it? Perhaps they’re playing poker. People will know they love him, and when he’s still on the board, they get a call from some team that’s so excited that they offer the Steelers a great trade that they can’t refuse. And they pull off the trade down that ends up being genius.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    I’m sure most just pegged him as strictly 4-3 based on his size too. Steed was more of a penetrating Nose Tackle than a space-eater Hampton was. It helped Steed had Kirkland so keep that in mind. Many would say naw, we don’t need a two-downs MIKE LB but truthfully if this LB is also one of our best pass-rusher, he’ll be our 3-downs LB. This give us more versatility on defense.

  • AndyMatts

    Someone on a site I frequent floated the idea of Donald fitting best in our defense as the next Kirkland, after he posted his jaw-dropping workout numbers.

  • AndyMatts

    DE conversion to OLB, sure. DT? Not so sure. ILB?

  • Lucus Rodriguez

    pretty sure it applies to in state guys

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