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Aaron Donald: The Best Ever?

Discussion in 'Football: NFL, College, High School' started by rimrocker, Feb 14, 2022.

  1. rimrocker

    rimrocker Contributing Member

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    Predictably, there are a swarm of folks on social media calling him the best defensive player ever.

    Donald is an easy Top 15 among those that play close to the line of scrimmage, but the best? No.

    Looking at just linemen and big linebackers, I've got Lawrence Taylor and Reggie White above him for sure. I think Donald is also behind Deacon Jones, Dick Butkus, Ray Lewis, and Bruce Smith. I'd put Donald in the range of Bob Lilly, Joe Greene, Alan Page, Derrick Thomas, John Randle, and Randy White.

    Who are your Top 5 NFL defenders of all time?
     
  2. astrosrule

    astrosrule Member

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    Among that players i have seen play defense (so the 2000s), basically watt and donald stand alone. I think Watts absolute peak was a little higher, but Donald has done it longer
     
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  3. blackistan

    blackistan Member

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    I remember when JJ used to be part of this conversation but unfortunately injuries got the best of him
     
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  4. rockbox

    rockbox Around before clutchcity.com
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    The best defenders of all time are Lawrence Taylor, Reggie White and Deion Sanders. Those are the guys that completely took away parts of the field and put fear in offenses. Mike Singletary was pretty awesome too but it was for a shorter period of time.

    Primetime is a controversial pick but there is a reason why he was the kingmaker when SF and Dallas were going at it. He took away half of the field from a passing standpoint and he didn't even tackle anyone.
     
    #4 rockbox, Feb 15, 2022
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2022
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  5. justtxyank

    justtxyank Contributing Member

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    As pure defenders since 2000, I'd throw out the following names:
    JJ Watt
    Aaron Donald
    Ray Lewis
    Ed Reed
    Troy Polamalu
    Darrelle Revis

    I think at his best, JJ Watt was better than Aaron Donald. His ability to swat passes in addition to being the monster pass rusher was insane. However, injuries ruined what should have been the second half, stat padding period of Watt's career. He'll be a HOF because of his peak, but there was a time where it looked like he would end up as the most decorated defender ever with possibly the career sack record, most DPOY, etc.
     
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  6. DonnyMost

    DonnyMost not wrong

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    I'd add Brian Urlacher, James Harrison, Julius Peppers, Terrell Suggs, Demarcus Ware, and Champ Bailey to that list.

    It's such a hard topic, because there are ironmen who did it at a high level for a LONG time, and there are phenoms who basically lit the world on fire for 6-7 years but ultimately couldn't sustain.

    I think it's safe to put Von Miller on that list too, even though he's actively playing.
     
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  7. astrosrule

    astrosrule Member

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    I don't think DB's can impact a game nearly as much as DL so i generally don't consider them. Lewis was great for a bit but most of his career he was just a good/very good player, his true prime was probably shorter then even JJ's.
     
  8. justtxyank

    justtxyank Contributing Member

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    Peppers was great but was more of a sustained excellence guy for me as opposed to a single game wrecking force.

    Harrison was more of a game wrecking force, that's a good one.

    Suggs and Urlacher were both great but I don't put them in that JJ Watt/Aaron Doland tier.

    Ware is a good one, I forgot. Truly wrecked games for entire seasons. Amazing football player.

    Champ was great too. One of my favorites ever.
     
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  9. justtxyank

    justtxyank Contributing Member

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    It's true most of the time. I think Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu are two safeties that clearly could. Either as a deep safety that just ball hawked like Reed, or Polamalu's all over the field destruction. They changed games.

    It's why I've never understood why teams don't value safeties more. We've seen teams that have elite safeties totally blow up offensive gameplans.
     
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  10. DonnyMost

    DonnyMost not wrong

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    I don't think it's fair to hold someone's position against them. The DEs, LBs, and safeties get all the glory because they're the ones making the big hits, but the amount of skill and talent you have to possess to be an All-Pro level CB1 for 10+ years is insane considering how short the shelf life is for that position.

    It seems in the Reed vs. Polamalu debate everyone goes Reed, but I disagree. Reed was a better on-the-ball player, but Troy P could legit play nearly every position but NT on defense. His football IQ was insane and he shined even when the Steelers' front 7 wasn't great, whereas Reed basically enjoyed a top 10 front his entire career.
     
    #10 DonnyMost, Feb 15, 2022
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2022
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  11. justtxyank

    justtxyank Contributing Member

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    I agree with you except I can't commit on Reed vs Troy. Both were game wreckers in different ways. Reed was such a ridiculous ball hawk man, it was goofy the way he could make an interception at a big moment. His ball hawking at key moments was as valuable as having a great RB to get the 1st down on 3rd and short. Troy was also a game breaker too. I just can't be 100% on which one I think was more impactful.
     
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  12. Buck Turgidson

    Buck Turgidson Mineshaft Enthusiast

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    At his healthy best, JJ Watt was the best DL I've ever seen, better than Reggie. Donald is right there.
     
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  13. Buck Turgidson

    Buck Turgidson Mineshaft Enthusiast

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    JJ Watt, Donald, Somebody, Reggie White

    LT and somebody outside....Who's the other OLB?

    Butkus, Lewis the Murderer, ILB?

    Reed, Deion, Lott, Green, nickleback? ....?
     
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  14. Dairy Ashford

    Dairy Ashford Member

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    Any Oilers safety, lineman or linebacker with B in their first or last name. so pick any five out of Blaine, Bo, Barrow, Bowden, Bethea, or the two Bubbas.
     
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  15. Nook

    Nook Member

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    LOL Good ole Bo Orlando

    [​IMG]

    I was a big fan of Bubba McDowell growing up until he came to speak at my class. He said he would take questions. He answered a bunch of questions about his favorite restaurant and his favorite color.... when it was my turn I asked him if he preferred playing cornerback under Jimmy Johnson at Miami or if he preferred playing strong safety with the Oilers and his DB coach Nick Saban.

    He laughed at me, said it was a dumb question and said I should ask him what his favorite pre-game meal was.

    I was like 12 years old.... WTF Bubba!
     
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  16. javal_lon

    javal_lon Member

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    He's definitely top 5 now... LT, Deion, Reggie, Ronnie Lott, and Donald IMO
     
  17. TheJuice

    TheJuice Member

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    Lawrence Taylor
    Ray Lewis
    Lester Hayes was incredible
    Strahan
    Polamlu and Reed

    EDIT: Forgot Champ Bailey
     
    #17 TheJuice, Jun 17, 2022
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2022
  18. peleincubus

    peleincubus Member

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    Khalil Mack was on his way but injuries knocked him down.

    Micah Parsons is next up and could be the guy that takes over for Aaron Donald.
     
  19. TheJuice

    TheJuice Member

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    He's legit. TJ Watt as well.

    It's tough to quantify because defense is much more of a team game...but those guys (like Donald and the other names we mentioned) you have to game plan your offensive schemes around, even if it's not always clear from highlight reels or box scores
     

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