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What almost was for Cowboys: Aaron Donald

IRVING, Texas -- In February and March it seemed almost a certainty the Dallas Cowboys would draft defensive tackle Aaron Donald in the first round.

He looked to be the perfect fit as the Cowboys’ three technique in Rod Marinelli’s front. He was quick. He could get after the passer. He could penetrate gaps in the defensive line.

But Donald kept rising up draft boards.

The St. Louis Rams picked Donald with the 13th pick in the first round, three spots before the Cowboys’ selection.

“We liked him a lot,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We wanted to address our defensive line and he was one of the top defensive linemen we thought in the draft. Just a really, really explosive player. He made a lot of plays, affected the quarterback, a lot of tackles for loss. Really, really productive. The big question for him was his size, but we certainly got our arms around how good a player we thought he was, and obviously the Rams thought he was pretty good too.”

The Cowboys will get to see Donald up close Sunday, and the Rams get a chance to see Zack Martin, the Cowboys’ top pick.

Donald has 12 tackles in two games and is still looking for his first sack, but coach Jeff Fisher is not complaining. Fisher said Donald understands the “after of the pass rush.”

“It’s the use of his hands,” Fisher said. “He’s been taught very, very well even to the point where our defensive line coach said he didn’t want to mess him up. He’s just going to let him play and learn from it. He’s that kind of guy. He’s short in stature and so he’s got great leverage so he can get underneath pads. He’s got great quickness and feet. He can get around big bodied offensive linemen pretty quickly.”