A continuing series of scouting reports for potential Cowboys draft picks.
Name: Will McDonald IV
Weight: 239 pounds
Combine Results: 36” vertical, 11’ broad
Will McDonald IV began this draft process as someone who was criminally underrated, and then everyone started talking about how underrated he was, and now McDonald may be on the verge of being overrated. Such is the way these things go.
For McDonald, a former three-star recruit from Wisconsin whose only Power 5 offer was Iowa State, it all started when he put on a show at the Senior Bowl. McDonald seemingly came out of nowhere, which prompted people to check out his stats. Then, when they saw his 34 sacks, 40.5 tackles for loss, 125 tackles, seven passes defensed, and 10 forced fumbles, everyone rushed to check out his film.
McDonald racked up the stats over his five years for the Cyclones, including three seasons as a starter. He was a key figure on a quietly stout Iowa State defense over that span. Now, McDonald is getting buzz as a potential first-round pick, with an early-second-round slot as the worst case scenario for his draft stock.
Burst: McDonald has one of the best first steps in this draft. He explodes off the ball and immediately gets to work. There is rarely a false step, a testament to his experience, and he is fluid and explosive at the snap. He ranked in the 95th percentile in both the broad and vertical jumps at the combine.
Footwork: McDonald can get sloppy with his footwork at times, playing out of sync with how quick off the ball he is. When he’s on, though, and everything is in sync between his feet and the rest of his body, McDonald looks straight up dominant.
Hand Technique: He has really long arms and he uses them well, getting full extension against his blockers. He’s somewhat lacking in strength at the point of attack, and his slight frame has something to do with that, but he remains active with his hands and never gives up on his rep.
Pass Rush Moves: McDonald is underdeveloped here, which is disappointing for a player with his experience. He has a cross chop move that is deadly, but he’s become overly reliant on it. McDonald should have a bigger bag of pass rush moves at this point.
Lateral Agility: He put up elite numbers in the agility tests at his pro day - 98th percentile in both - but the tape shows someone who’s uncomfortable moving side to side. Much of this stems from his inconsistent footwork, as McDonald is a much better mover in a straight line.
Athleticism: McDonald has gobs of athleticism, and it’s apparent on the field. He’s not the biggest guy at his position, so it’s crucial that McDonald comes equipped with speed to counteract that.
Run Defense: This is easily his biggest weakness. McDonald doesn’t have the strength or lateral agility to hold up well against the run unless he’s lined up far out to the edge. Opponents knew they could run at him and take him out of the play with a double team. McDonald projects solely as a situational pass rusher at the next level.
Processing: McDonald has a solid understanding of blocking schemes and the best ways to attack them. He is lacking in his rush plans, though, a side effect of having so few refined pass rush moves. Overall, you’d like to see better processing skills from a player with this much experience.
Intangibles: McDonald has great length and his motor runs hot. He plays through the whistle and rarely puts forth 100% effort. Scouts will question his age, as McDonald will be 24 at the start of the season. That he still needs some development after so much time spent in college will be a point of discussion for some teams.