Rod Marinelli was named the Cowboys new defensive coordinator at the end of the season, a season which saw the Cowboys defense hit some new lows as they tried to adapt to the Tampa 2 version of the 4-3 defense. Marinelli was the Defensive Coordinator with the Bears (under Lovie Smith) from 2010-2012, where he coached the same defense Dallas runs now.
To fix the Dallas 4-3 defense, I’m convinced Dallas must draft a Warren Sapp type defensive tackle that can make things happen up front. Past decisions are often a good predictor of future decisions so with that in mind, I looked back to see if Marinelli drafted a defensive tackle during his time with the Bears.
In 2011, the Bears drafted DT Stephen Paea in the 2nd round. At the time, Marinelli described Paea as the “full package”.
“The first thing that jumped out at me was he fits our defense,” Marinelli said. “He’s a great penetrator. He’s got really good feet and that’s something you really look for in the down [linemen]. They’ve got to have movement and he can penetrate. He’s strong in there. He finishes plays really well.
At 6-1 and 303 pounds, Paea had a very productive college career and Marinelli was impressed with his non stop motor regardless of the game circumstances. Paea was very strong as he benched 225 for a ridiculous 49 times! Now that’s just crazy.
Looking at the approaching 2014 NFL draft, is there a DT prospect that Marinelli might have an eye that can help turn things around for the Cowboys struggling defense? A Stephen Paea type strong enough to play the one technique while quick enough to play the 3 tech. as well?
Yes, as a matter of fact, I believe DT Aaron Donald would be the kind of defensive lineman that could really be the piece Marinelli needs to get the Cowboys defense back on track. At the recent NFL combine, Donald displayed his outstanding speed, which really stands out on film, as he ran a 4.68/40 best among defensive tackles. He also displayed excellent strength benching 225 for 35 reps and while not as sick as the 49 reps Stephen Paea did in 2011, it was 2nd best among all defensive linemen. (Kaleb Ramsey of Boston College did 36).
At 6-1 and 285, Donald has similar size as Paea and like Paea, Donald had a very productive career in college football.
It was reported that Dallas was interviewing Donald at the Combine HERE. I believe Marinelli has got to be impressed with Donald and would love to have him on that defensive front next year.
In 2011, Paea was considered a first round pick however he injured an ankle at the Senior Bowl practices and that’s likely how the Bears were able to get him in the 2nd round. In 2014, Aaron Donald is healthy and ready to go so I don’t think they can wait until the 2nd round to get Donald who should be an excellent fit for their defense.
Aaron Donald is moving up the draft board after a solid Senior Bowl and Combine performance. Currently he is considered about a mid first round pick (ranked 22 overall by CBS sports) which is about where Dallas picks (16).