Aaron Donald ranked as No. 1 interior D-lineman, Greg Gaines gets honorable mention

The Rams Wire

When is the last time there was a list of the best defensive linemen in the NFL that Aaron Donald wasn’t at the top of? He’s been at the peak of his position mates for several years now, earning first-team All-Pro selections every year since 2015.

Touchdown Wire is the latest outlet to rank the top interior D-linemen in the league, unsurprisingly putting Donald at the top once again. There are some excellent defensive linemen in the NFL right now, including Jeffery Simmons, Cam Heyward and Chris Jones, but Donald is still a step above all of them.

Donald made some nebulous noise about retirement after he won his first ring, but the Rams wisely put an end to that with a three-year, $95 million contract re-do that makes him the highest-paid non-quarterback in the history of professional football.

Because we are not quarterbacks, running backs, or offensive linemen, we can say that we’re very happy to see more of Aaron Donald over the next few years. It’s not exaggeration or cliché to say that we won’t see his like again for a very long time.

It’s incredible that he hasn’t had fewer than 11 sacks in a season since 2016, and he’s never had fewer than eight in a single year. In eight seasons, he has 98 sacks and 150 tackles for a loss, mind-blowing numbers for a defensive tackle. Even if he retired today, which he certainly isn’t doing after signing an extension this offseason, Donald would be considered one of the best defensive players of all time and a lock for the Hall of Fame on the first ballot.

Elsewhere on the list, Greg Gaines earned an honorable mention from Touchdown Wire. He put together a terrific 2021 season in place of the injured Sebastian Joseph-Day, but now that he has a clear path to being a full-time player from the start, Gaines could garner Pro Bowl consideration.

In 17 games (13 starts) last year, Gaines had 4.5 sacks and 13 QB hits, improving substantially as a pass rusher at nose tackle.

Author: Lucy Green