2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Will McDonald

  • Will McDonald, 6-4/245

  • Defensive End/Outside Linebacker

  • Iowa State

  • Will McDonald Scouting Report
    By Charlie Campbell

  • Superb athleticism
  • Explosive speed off the edge
  • Natural pass-rush ability
  • Good get-off
  • Excellent in pursuit
  • Potential for repertoire of pass-rushing moves
  • Enough speed to get around the corner
  • Active hands at times
  • Agility to sink his hips/shoulder
  • Splash plays
  • Agility to dodge blockers on the run
  • Very twitchy
  • Upside
  • Good natured kid

  • Weaknesses:
  • Liability as a run defender
  • Lean and skinny
  • Needs more weight
  • Needs more strength
  • Playing-time limitations because of his size
  • Underweight to play 4-3 defensive end
  • Has some struggles with immaturity and naïveté

  • Summary: In the passing-driven NFL, edge defenders who can get after the quarterback are always in demand. With his speed, athleticism, and length, McDonald has the potential to be an impactful edge defender who could log double-digit sacks annually as a pro. He proved to be a consistent quarterback hunter over his career at Iowa State.

    McDonald started out his collegiate career with six sacks in 2019. Then in 2020, he jumped out to 10.5 sacks and 33 tackles. As a junior in 2021, McDonald totaled 36 tackles, 11.5 sacks, five forced fumbles and three passes batted. In his senior year, Big XII offenses sent a lot of double teams his direction and rolled the pocket away from him. McDonald’s production was down as a result, and recorded five sacks, 36 tackles and four passes batted. However, McDonald still rushed well and got valuable experience from seeing consistent double-team attention. Over his college career, McDonald notched an impressive total of 10 forced fumbles.

    As a pass rusher, McDonald is fast off the ball with smooth athleticism to dart around blockers. Team sources rave about McDonald’s pass-rush ability, and his natural skills at getting after the quarterback. McDonald is fast and athletic, allowing him to shoot past blockers and put steady heat on the signal-caller. With a serious burst, McDonald closes space in a hurry and darts upfield. He shows natural pass-rushing feel and instincts. McDonald has long arms and is able to use his hands and feet at the same time. Using his quickness and agility, he has a dangerous spin move to get off blocks.

    Team sources called McDonald a terrible run defender, saying he gets destroyed against the run too often. They noted that even against bad teams McDonald would get embarrassed in the ground game. At sub-250 pounds, McDonald must get stronger for the NFL. He has to show more ability to hold his ground and not get pushed around. If McDonald could grow into just an average run defender, that would be a big improvement and make him a valuable starter in the passing-driven pro league.

    For the NFL, McDonald’s best fit could come as a 3-4 outside linebacker. His run-defense limitations could possilby be covered up by a five-technique defensive end. McDonald’s weakness as a run defender prevents a projection of him being viewed as a starting end in a 4-3 defense. For a 4-3, he would only be a designated pass rusher in obvious passing situations. That will probably be his role in any defense, but a 3-4 system might offer more opportunities for him to develop into a larger role.

    Team sources think McDonald will be a pick in the back half of the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. If McDonald slips to Round 2, he should get snatched up quickly.

    Player Comparison: Yannick Ngakoue. McDonald is akin to Ngakoue coming out of Maryland. Both were natural quarterback hunters who had issues in run defense. Ngakoue (6-2, 246) was a second-day pick, and McDonald could go in the same range during the 2023 NFL Draft.


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