Aaron Donald is arguably the most popular name mentioned when it comes to projecting who the Dallas Cowboys will select with the 16th overall pick in next month’s draft.
Donald, the defensive tackle out of Pitt, plays the same position as recently acquired veteran Henry Melton, however, if he’s available when the Cowboys are on the clock, many experts believe he’ll be Jerry Jones’ final choice.
"I had the opportunity to talk to him a couple times at the Combine, I talked to him last night and I talked to him today," Donald said. "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."
Donald also said that although he doesn’t keep up with the pre-draft hype, his mother is all over it.
"She’s pretty much looking at Google every day," Donald said. "So every day she says ‘This team says they’re going to draft you this time.’ I’m like, ‘Mom, just don’t look at that. None of that matters until your name gets called.’ But that’s what she does."
Donald was named All-American and ACC Defensive Player of the Year during his senior season at Pitt. As if that wasn’t already impressive enough, he was also the recipient of the Bednarik, Lombardi, Nagurski and Outland awards.
In 13 games, Donald finished with 59 tackles, 28.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks. To compare, during Ndamukong Suh’s outstanding senior year in 2009, the 2010 second overall pick finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting after recording 85 tackles, 24 tackles for loss and 12 sacks.