Football: Donald dominates workouts at NFL Combine

Football: Donald dominates workouts at NFL Combine

By Nate Barnes | Sports Editor

Aaron Donald became the nation’s most decorated player after he swept the Outland Trophy, Bednarik Award, Nagurski Trophy and Lombardi Award and was unanimously named a First-Team All-American in December. Pitt’s star defensive tackle was then named the Most Outstanding Overall Player after he dominated Senior Bowl practices in January.

This week, the Penn Hills, Pa., product put himself in excellent position to be drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft in May when he posted multiple position-best performances in drills at the NFL Scouting Combine held at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Teammates Tom Savage and Devin Street also participated in the four-day scouting event.

Donald, ranked by as the No. 22 overall prospect in this year’s draft class, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.68 seconds, posted 35 reps at 225 pounds in the bench press and performed the three-cone agility drill in 7.11 seconds. 

“I’m real happy,” Donald told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “This is what I’ve been working for for seven months. I wanted to go out and do some special things.”

At the moment, teams in need of an interior lineman in a 4-3 defensive scheme, such as the Chicago Bears (No. 14 overall pick) and Dallas Cowboys (No. 16), are listed as likely to draft Donald.  

After Donald, Street is projected by CBS Sports as a fourth- or fifth-round draft pick as the No. 21-ranked receiver in the class. 

Street ran a 4.55-second 40-yard dash at the combine, a relatively slow time for his position. But scouts cite his stride length and smoothness on the field as factors that make up for a lack of pure speed. 

Pitt’s all-time leader in receptions is described by Nolan Nawrocki, a draft analyst with the NFL Network, as a player who “has the ability to be an effective zone beater and red-zone target.”

In a conference call prior to the combine earlier this week, NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock called Savage a “wild card that nobody talks about” at the quarterback position. 

“He’s a big, strong kid that can throw,” Mayock said. 

Savage did not rank among the top quarterback performers at the combine, participating in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, broad jump, three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle drills. 

But despite Savage’s numbers in the drills, Street tweeted Monday: “Even though it wasn’t on TV, Tom Savage was the best QB. Every wideout gave him praise! So underrated.”

CBS Sports ranks the 6-foot-4, 228-pound signal-caller as the No. 12 quarterback prospect in the class and projects him to be drafted in the sixth or seventh round.

Nawrocki writes that Savage has “terrific size” and has “excellent arm strength to complete NFL throws,” but also notes that he “forces some throws” and “tends to stare down his target.”