Iowa State edge rusher Will McDonald IV has been very busy this spring. He’s been one of the most-requested prospects for top-30 official visits, including the Buffalo Bills. NFL Draft analyst Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network reported the news that McDonald sat down for pre-draft visits with 11 teams, and had to turn down six other franchise visits “due to time re(s)traints.”
Official 30 visit list for McDonald- Packers, Bears, Cowboys, Bucs, Eagles, Bills, Vikings, Giants, Cards, Seahawks, Chiefs. Had to turn down half dozen visits due to time retraints https://t.co/REsZutIDHk— Tony Pauline (@TonyPauline) April 19, 2023
If you’re looking to find the most productive pass rushers in college football, McDonald’s name is near the top of the list. At Iowa State, McDonald played in 50 games and made 125 tackles (40.5 tackles for loss), 34 sacks, seven passes defended, and one fumble recovery.
At the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine, McDonald measured 6’4” and weighed 239 pounds, with 34 7/8” arms and 9 1/2” hands. McDonald only participated in two events at Lucas Oil Stadium, the vertical jump (36”) and broad jump (11’) At his pro day, McDonald stole the show running 4.62- and 4.66-second 40-yard dashes, a best of 6.60-seconds for his 3-cone drill, and 4.21-second short shuttle.
Draft analysts rave about McDonald’s explosiveness, agility, and his “active hands” — which provide him the ability to fight off would-be blockers and create important separation. He plays with a palpable intensity
On the short list of concerns are McDonald’s somewhat slight frame and a tendency toward being overmatched against run blockers. He could stand to add to his closet pass-rush moves, though he’s done well in spite of them to this point. But NFL offensive linemen are a different breed. He shouldn’t turn down any opportunity to learn new tricks of the trade. Interestingly, McDonald’s sack numbers dipped significantly in 2022, from 11 each in 2020 and 2021, to just five last season. NFL teams will have to figure out what’s behind that drop, and decide if it matters to them.
Does Will McDonald IV fit the Bills? Buffalo doesn’t operate out of a 3-4 defensive alignment. Some analysts believe that’s McDonald’s best fit, playing outside linebacker. In truth, his best fit is on the football field in any defensive system. McDonald would fit in well as a rotational edge defender. There’s very little to dislike about McDonald as a pass rusher, with production in spades. Once McDonald gets into an NFL program he’s likely to pick up additional pass-rush moves — which should only raise his ceiling as an edge rusher. While teams may want him to bulk up, care must be taken not to sacrifice his explosion in an effort to improve his run defense. If McDonald is only ever a good-to-great situational pass rusher, those who bemoan his absence on obvious run downs will be few and far between. The question for the Bills, should McDonald be available to them, is if drafting him when and where able is the best allocation of resources. The team has multiple needs, and landing McDonald might require them drafting him in Round 1, or moving up in Round 2 to seal the deal.