NFL Hot Press: Sources See Will McDonald as Late First-rounder

Sources See Will McDonald as Late First-rounder

Updated Sept. 26, 2022
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

The modern NFL is driven by passing, so teams prioritize players who protect and affect the quarterback. Those areas of emphasis help a natural quarterback hunter like Iowa State edge rusher Will McDonald. He has been a dynamic pass rusher over his career, having notched 28 sacks over three seasons entering his senior year. While McDonald is undersized and weak as a run defender, his pass-rush ability is good enough to have him being projected as a potential first-rounder. Sources from multiple NFL teams believe McDonald could be a late first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

“What he does in the rush game is really special,” said an AFC director of player personnel. “He is extremely athletic and fast with a good get-off. He might be a DPR – designated pass rusher – only, but he could be elite at that. He could be a 15-17 sack-per-year guy in the NFL.”

McDonald is listed at 6-foot-4, 245 pounds, and he has gained weight through Iowa State getting him escorted to the cafeteria this year, according to team sources. Those sources said McDonald has maturity issues and needs to grow into being more professional, but he is a good kid and everybody at Iowa State loves him. Sources noted that while McDonald is lacking the size and strength to be a three-down starter as a run defender, he has the athletic ability to drop into coverage. However, NFL evaluators aren’t sure if you could trust him to be assignment sound in coverage. Scouts who have been through Iowa State say McDonald has a basketball lower body and a football upper body.

Sources believe McDonald will require a lot of maintenance and babysitting regarding being on time, following a diet, and even paying his bills. However, they feel he is such a natural and special pass rusher that a team is likely to take him late in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.