Dylan Donahue, the Jets' fifth-round draft choice, has given the perfect early Father's Day gift to his dad.
Mitch Donahue, AFC West and NFC West fans may remember, was a linebacker for the Broncos and 49ers in the early Nineties, and as such was a big professional fan of Kevin Greene, whose Pro Football Hall of Fame career began five years before and ended five years after Mitch's career.
"My dad always talked about Kevin Greene," Dylan recalled this week at the Jets' rookie minicamp, "just about how relentless his pursuit was to the quarterback and how he made quarterbacks hurt and they didn't like him on the field."
It's funny how things sometimes work out in the NFL, because Dylan's position coach with the Jets is none other than Greene.
"My dad was like the happiest I've seen him in a long time," Dylan said. "Kevin's one of his favorite players, probably the favorite player. So he couldn't be more excited and I couldn't be more excited to see him like that."
But Dylan's got even more to be pumped about in his first days with the Green & White. He's become a K.Greene fan as well.
"He's a really intense guy," Donahue said with a knowing smile, "and he's real intentional, too. He sees something in a guy and he wants to use that. For me, it's my speed off the edge. So I think he's like my perfect coach."
It's not hard to see why Greene would be fired up. One of the reasons head coach Todd Bowles was interested in hiring Greene was for his skills in rushing the passer — he had 160 career sacks and in 10 of his 15 seasons reached double digits — and also in coaching same — the Packers, with Greene coaching their linebackers, were fourth in the NFL in sacks from 2009-13.
Donahue has compiled quite a pass-rush career of his own so far, albeit on the small-college stage. He had 19 sacks in his first two seasons, at Palomar JC near San Diego, then 25.5 more sacks for Division II West Georgia University, near Atlanta. That's an average of double-digit sacks a season for four seasons.
"I just think I have a lot of speed off the edge, and people underestimate my strength," he said succinctly about his style of play. In response to another question about now playing linebacker after doing a lot of hand-in-the-dirt work at West Georgia, he said, "I've just got to be myself, and then also become more of a student of the game. I think that's been my struggle in the past, and Coach Greene has been very willing to help me out with that."
Could there be some karma involved in the two now working together? Thirty-two years before Donahue was taken in Round 5 by the Jets, Greene was selected in the fifth round of the 1985 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams.
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Donahue isn't getting too far ahead of himself. He knows his "foot in the door" with the Jets will be his special teams play so that's been his main focus since coming to the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center last week.
But he's also got his eyes on a longer-term goal. Asked when he knew he could be a prolific pass rusher, he said it's been a natural progression.
"I don't want to say it's been easier at every level, but I would just figure more stuff out," Donahue said. "And I think with Kevin Greene on my back, it could potentially be disastrous for other teams."
Sounds like a Father's Day gift that could keep on giving.