Rams star Aaron Donald wins 2017 NFL Defensive Player of the Year award
The best defensive player in the NFL won the award
"It's a dream come true," Donald said while accepting the award. "This is what you dream about as a kid, playing in the NFL."
The Rams defensive lineman actually didn't play in the first game of the season after missing much of training camp in a holdout for a new contract, and didn't even play in Week 17 when coach Sean McVay decided to sit his starters with the Rams in the playoffs.
Despite that, Donald still managed to produce 11 sacks, two passes defensed and five forced fumbles. His numbers aren't ever enough to do justice to his production: Donald is a force on the interior of the Rams defensive line, a lighting-quick powerball who disrupts opposing offensive lines and generates pressure left and right.
"Words can't express what I'm feeling right now," Donald said. "Trying to hold back the tears."
There was a good argument for Donald to win DPOY in 2016 as well, but it was hard for him to generate the support with the Rams winning just four games. With Los Angeles securing the NFC West title this time around, it was easy to look at the damage Donald did and see why he should win.
Even more impressive? He did so while switching defensive schemes, as Wade Phillips took over the Rams defense under McVay and transitioned Donald to a 3-4 defensive end. Donald ranked 12th in Pro Football Focus run-stop percentage category among 3-4 defensive ends and was the top-ranked pass rusher at the position by a wide margin.
Donald, who fell in the draft because of concerns about his size -- an idea that seemed dumb from his first NFL snap -- has been an All-Pro for the last three years and has made the Pro Bowl all four of his season in the NFL.
He is a force, and a well-deserving recipient of the Defensive Player of the Year award.
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