Rams’ Aaron Donald Is Motivation for $17 Million Cowboys Star

Aaron Donald

Getty Aaron Donald celebrates a stop on October 9, 2022 in Inglewood.

Even decorated young defenders want to impact the game the way Aaron Donald has for the Los Angeles Rams.

Count two-time Pro Bowler and $17 million star Micah Parsons of the Dallas Cowboys as one who wants to have an “A.D” like impact ahead of the 2023 season.

What Inspires Parsons in Looking at Donald

Parsons has been everything the Cowboys have asked for with 26.5 sacks in his first two seasons out of Penn State. However, the edge rusher told the Dallas media on Thursday, June 1 that he doesn’t want to be defined by sacks anymore.

“I’m kind of off the ‘sack wave.’ I’m onto the ‘impact wave,” Parsons declared to reporters.

And that’s when he used the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year as his example.

“You see Aaron Donald. He can have 12 sacks, but the impact he makes is so dominant,” Parsons shared. “You can tell. I really just want to be dominant.”

Parsons concluded that even a pass rusher like him who hits up to 17 sacks sometimes still get called “one of the guys” in the league or on their team. He wants to be defined as something else…which is a title Donald himself holds.

“You see guys who have 16 to 17 sacks, but they’re not considered ‘a guy.’ I want to be ‘a guy,’ not ‘one of the guys,” Parsons said. “You feel me? I’m not chasing for something. I’m trying to achieve and be greater than someone who is chasing.”

Another words: Parsons clearly wants to prove he can impact the game without getting sacks or tackles…a la Donald. He wants to command the kind of attention that opens a door of destruction for the other Cowboy defenders of his — similar to what Donald has done for names like Dante Fowler, Von Miller, Greg Gaines and others who lined up next to “A.D.”

National Outlet Continues to Rank Donald High

An annual occurrence for Pro Football Focus: Placing Donald as the No. 1 overall defensive lineman or their top player overall.

And while Donald couldn’t finish out the season with a high ankle sprain and earned his lowest PFF grade in their history of rankings, Donald still reigns supreme as the top interior defender heading into the season.

“Despite posting his lowest PFF grade since his rookie year, Donald remains a dominant force on the defensive interior. In his nine-year career, he has produced 90.0-plus PFF grades in every season. Last year, he recorded 40 pressures on 396 pass-rushing snaps, so the production was still there even in an injury-marred season,” PFF’s Gordon McGuinness wrote on Tuesday, May 30.

However, PFF mentioned two names who could threaten Donald’s throne. The first name is the No. 2 on the list Chris Jones of the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.

“Jones may be on his way to surpassing Donald as the top interior defender in the NFL. His 92.3 PFF grade in 2022 was the best in the league at the position. With a career-high 97 pressures from 741 pass-rushing snaps, including the playoffs, Jones has established himself as a formidable force in the trenches,” McGuiness wrote.

The next threat is one who signed a blockbuster $87.5 million deal during the offseason and will soon team with Donald’s Ex-Rams teammate A’Shawn Robinson: Dexter Lawrence, who came in at No. 3 for PFF.

“Lawrence experienced a breakout 2022 season, earning a career-best 91.6 PFF grade. And at just 25 years old, he still has room to grow and could threaten Donald and Jones with another big season. Including the playoffs, he produced 70 pressures on 577 pass-rushing snaps, proving to be a disruptive force for opposing offenses all year long,” McGuiness wrote.

But to this day, the 32-year-old Donald still has a profound impact on other defenders like Parsons — to the point they’ll aim to deliver their own “A.D.” presence.

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