From now until the 2023 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top 10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents. Today I’ll be profiling Iowa State Edge Will McDonald IV.
#9 WILL MCDONALD IV, EDGE, IOWA STATE (SR.) 6030, 236 LBS.
|Player||Ht/Wt||Hand size||Arm Length||Wingspan|
|Will McDonald IV||6’3 236||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|40 Yard Dash||10 Yard Dash||Short Shuttle||3-Cone|
|Broad Jump||Vertical||Bench Press|
— Long armed, athletic defender that can make tackles downfield
— Uses more agility as opposed to strength in his rush moves
— Has the ability to run ball carriers down, down the field
— Long arms help him to reach around when running the circle around tackles, and strip the football loose
— Has great first step when getting off the football
— Uses two hand swipe well when rounding the edge
— Smooth strider when running vertically
— Uses great initial hand placement when making contact on pass rush
— Blocked easily as he lacks the ability to shed blocks
— Lacks overall strength at the point of attack
— Didn’t show a lot of versatility as he mainly played in a tight five/four in a three-man rush
— Gets washed down the line easily being lighter for his position
— Doesn’t have the speed you seek in a guy for his weight
— Needs to develop the ability to get his long arms in passing lanes when rushing
— Lacks that hot motor you like to see in any edge defender
— Doesn’t have a large collection of pass rush moves as he typically wins with Hand fighting
— Poor instincts when it comes to locating the football as he spends a lot of time off the snap with his head down
— Born June 4th 1999 (age 23)
— Liberal Studies Major
— Rated three-star recruit by all major sites
— Ranked top five player in Wisconsin by all major sites
— Was ranked no. 46 weak side defensive end by 247 sports
— In 2018 saw playing time in four games while also being able to redshirt
— He had three tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble in the limited action he seen as a redshirt
— In 2019 he was selected to second team Academic All-Big 12
— Began his redshirt freshman season at linebacker before being moved back to defensive end at midseason
— He totaled 15 tackles, six sacks, two quarterback hurries and one forced fumble as a redshirt freshman
— In 2020 he was selected to First Team All-Big 12
— Ted Hendricks Award semifinalist
— Second Team Academic All-Big 12
— Played in all 12 games, while leading the Big-12, and tied for first nationally in overall sacks with 10.5
— Had 33 tackles including 19 solo stops and forced two fumbles
— In 2021 Second Team All-American by CBS
— Third Team All-American by the Associated Press
— Big 12 Co-defensive lineman of the year
— First team All-Big 12
— Started 11 of 13 games
— Tied for the lead in the Big-12 in sacks with 11.5
— Posted 36 tackles, three pass breakups, 14 tackles for loss, and five forced fumbles
— 2022 First Team All-Big 12
— Started all 12 games as a senior
— Had 36 tackles, five sacks, seven and a half tackles for loss, four pass breakups, and one forced fumble
— Tied Big 12 career record for sacks with 34
My overall initial thought is that McDonald is a long, lengthy defender that runs the circle well around tackles. His length and get-off are two majorly beneficial traits that will translate well into the next level. On a darker note, he is a lighter defensive lineman, so he struggles with shedding blocks down in the trenches. Overall, he needs to add weight and strength to better counter run blocks. Watching the tape he flashes good hands in the pass rush, but he doesn’t have a very large repertoire of pass rush moves. There isn’t a lot of tape of him playing in anything other than a four or five technique until his senior year and even then, he played very out of position and looked very uncomfortable when playing down in the middle. His sack numbers dropped significantly as a senior, and a lot of that statistical drop is due to the schematic change. So, versatility is a concerning thing with him, but it seems for now at least that with him he will initially be a key third down rotating 3-4 outside linebacker.
Against Kansas State in this play you see the capability he has to run the half circle against these tackles and win with his speed. His flexibility and bend can and will be what makes his money at least in the early portions of his career. His active hands help him win the rep and will continue to help him win given that he lacks the strength that some of these tackles have.
At the bottom of the screen here McDonald uses a great get off and rips inside using speed and nearly making the play, but he loses his footing and falls at the feet of the quarterback. Anyone who knows the game knows that pressures and hits sometimes have nearly as great an effect as a sack. The tackle here oversets just slightly allowing McDonald to take that hard step inside and his early punch reveals his hands earlier than he should’ve which allows McDonald to swipe them away and move vertical quickly toward the quarterback.
I spoken candidly about his inability to shed blocks and here is just a small example of why. He plays like he thinks he’s stronger than he is. He spends just a little too long on blocks sometimes when he needs to get into the move he wants to use so that way he can make more plays behind the line of scrimmage.
Using McDonald in stunts and twists could be extremely useful as being a longer, heavier, more flexible guy than most defensive lineman will benefit sending him inside on rushes late. Here gets a clean shot at the quarterback, it just happens that he gets there late. In most cases that’s going to cause a lot of poorly placed balls and even turnovers.
In this play against Kansas, you see McDonald slant inside on a run going into the direction he slants, and he nearly makes the tackle, but he causes just enough commotion to mess the play up for the offense all together. Not that I would label it an ‘’issue’’ but there are some limited clips in his tape where he doesn’t possess a great motor and doesn’t gang tackle all that frequently, but this is what you want to see from him. Hat always around the ball, wreaking havoc in the backfield.
Unfortunately for the offense, this play was sort of doomed from the start, but Will uses good burst and athleticism to bend around the edge and secure the sack. The offensive tackle doesn’t get a ton of depth on this pass set, but McDonald bends well in order to secure the edge. He rushes very vertically, or north and south, so you would like to see him sort of set the depth of the pocket with his rush, but overall great rep here and one of his many career sacks.
My general thoughts on McDonalds tape are that he needs to gain strength and really learn to handle and shed blocks down in the trenches. He will be more than okay on the edge as a rotational third down pass rusher, but he’ll truly make his mark in the league when he learns to shed blocks early and keep his eyes in the backfield. In too many instances, he’s caught at the point of attack with his head down and that combined with his lack of ability to shed blocks particularly in the run game is going to cause him a lot of plays on the ground with big bodies on top of him. All five guys across the line of scrimmage can move him alike and he at no point belongs anywhere inside of a four-technique due to that very reason.
At least until he adds weight and becomes stronger being able to take on those blocks. He plays sideline to sideline well, chasing defenders, but you need to see more splash from him overall as far as creating tackles for loss in the run game. He’s always going to be a guy that wins reps in pass rush against tackles running them outside but he’s going to have to become more creative when using rush moves and winning inside more.
One player in the league now that I’d say his game reminds me of the most is Leonard Floyd. A longer leaner edge guy that wins primarily with speed and can get sacks in bunches. Pittsburgh is going to need to address the edge position at some point and I think this is a guy who can be in play somewhere in the second round. Is the position in that level of importance? That’s up for discretion, but this is an extremely talented dude who has some work to do but fully capable of getting there.
Projection: Late Day One Early Day Two
Depot Draft Grade: 8.1- Second Round (Future Quality Starter)
Games watched: VS. Baylor (2022) VS. Kansas State (2021) VS. Northern Iowa (2021)