AMES, IA - SEPTEMBER 24: Defensive end Will McDonald IV #9 of the Iowa State Cyclones celebrates after sacking quarterback Blake Shapen #12 of the Baylor Bears, center left, in the first half of play at Jack Trice Stadium on September 24, 2022 in Ames, Iowa.

Could Iowa State’s Will McDonald end up as the Eagles pick at 30?  

We are in the final days before the draft. On Thursday, the draft will kick off. The Eagles have two picks in the first round alone. So it could be a busy day one for them. There is some thought they may trade down from 30 into the second round to pick up more day 2 and 3 picks. But whether they are picking early in the 2nd, or at 30, there is one name to keep an eye on. Will McDonald, an edge rusher out of Iowa State. 

His name came up at pick 30 more than anyone else in our recent experiment where we simulated the draft 1000 times.  Will McDonald was the pick 125 times. The only player in triple digits, and 40 more than the next guy. So if the computer seems to think he will end up an Eagle, it may be worth getting to know him more. Especially considering Edge Rusher is a position many have high on the list of Eagles needs given Brandon Graham’s age. 

What has him in line to maybe break a 50-year-long drought? Are his speed and agility enough to overcome concerns about his size and strength? What record did he break in college that was set by Von Miller?

Here are 5 things you should know about Will McDonald…

  • A Freaky Athlete

    The first thing that stands out about Will McDonald, is his athleticism. Before the season he landed on Bruce Feldman’s Freak List, and for good reason. McDonald is fast on the field, and agile. His coach noted that McDonald can do backflips while standing still, and leap over cars. And one of his teammates called him the fastest human being he has ever seen. 

    “He is just the fastest human being I think I’ve ever witnessed. He’s just twitchy, let alone like just flat-out run speed fast. He can cut a corner quick; he can spin before you blink twice.”- Iowa State O-Linemen Jarrod Hufford  

    [Source: The Athletic]

    When it comes to finesse moves in the pass rush, it is hard to find someone better. Scouts praise his bend and his quickness. And he has a spin move that will take offensive linemen out of their shoes.

    His combine was not as impressive as many hoped. Partly because he was dealing with a fever at the time. He elected to not participate in the running drills. But he went anyway to interview with teams, and to participate in the events he felt he could still perform in. Despite the illness, he managed to impress in the Broad Jump and the vertical. 

    Later at Iowa State’s Pro Day, he ran a 4.62 in the 40. 

  • Now Iowa State Player Has Been Selected in the 1st round in 50 Years

    It has been a long time since any Iowa State player has been selected in the first round. 50 years. You would have to go all the way back to the Houston Oilers pick in 1973 for the last time any Iowa State player went in the first round. Breece Hall came close last year but ended up coming off the board at pick 36. And he was the first Iowa State player to go in the 2nd round since 2012. Before that, you would have to go back to 1990 to see any Cyclone that went in the 2nd. 

     Iowa State is not a school known for developing NFL talent, let alone Stars. Only one player out of Iowa State has made a Pro Bowl or an All-Pro team this century. That was Kelechi Osemele, who was a First Team All-Pro with the Raiders in 2016 and played Left Guard on the Ravens Super Bowl team as a rookie in 2012. 

    A trend Will McDonald will be looking to break. Most mock drafts have going somewhere between 20 and 32. 

  • Set The All-Time Big 12 Sack Record

    The Big 12 is not exactly known for developing elite Pass Rushers. But there are a few names that stand out. Namely Von Miller, Brian Orakpo, and Ndamukong Suh. Well, all 3 have one thing in common. They all trail Will McDonald on the All-Time sack list in the Big 12.  

    In 4 years as a regular player in the Big 12, McDonald racked up 34 sacks. One more than Von Miller. This past season he put up just 6 sacks. But in the prior two seasons, he put up a combined 22 sacks. And in the past 3 seasons, he has 105 total Pressures. He can get after it. Even in a down year, he managed to stay pretty productive.  

    One of the reasons for having fewer sacks this past season may have been spending more time in the B-Gap instead of lining up outside the tackle. He relies a lot on his speed game and spin move to beat blockers. Suggesting he is probably best suited as a true edge rusher at the next level, as opposed to being used inside.  

    Mcdonald also had 39.5 tackles for loss, seven deflections, and nine forced fumbles. 

  • Scouts Say His Game Lacks Power

    One concern for McDonald is his size. At 6’3” and 241 lbs, he is leaner than the average pass rusher. Most of the top edge rushers are at least 250 lbs if not 260. In fact, only 4 of those 19 games came in under 250. And all of them were stand-up edge rushers, as opposed to hands-in-the-ground defensive ends.  

    With that said, two of those 4, are two of the most dangerous rushers in the league. Haason Reddick and Micah Parsons. Who along with Nick Bosa and Myles Garret were among the sack leaders last season. So it is not impossible to be effective while small. But the larger concern is the lack of strength in his rush game. Scouts say he struggles with shedding blocks. He either beats the tackle with his speed and agility, or he loses that snap. And in the NFL, it is not as easy to beat Tackles with speed. There are some agile Offensive Linemen at this level. For instance, no one is beating Lane Johnson with a speed rush. Though to be fair no one is really beating him with any kind of rush. 

    It does not mean he will be a bust. The speed and agility tools he brings to his pass rush game are elite. It is just to say he has a less diverse set of rush tools than perhaps some other guys in the draft. Which is why he is projected to go at the end of the 1st round, despite being more productive in College than many of the guys ranked above him.  

  • Excelled at More Than Just Football

    Football is not the only sport Will McDonald excelled at. He impressed across multiple sports while at Waukesha North. While getting Division 1 offers to play Football, he was also bringing home state championships in track and field, and getting honored in basketball. McDonald won the State Title with a Discus throw of 179 feet and 9 inches. At the same event, he came third in the high jump. 

    All of this, despite dealing with a minor leg injury during the event. Both the discus throw and the high jump required him to beat his prior personal bests by a significant amount. Before the meet, the furthest discus throw he ever had was 13 feet shorter. And before he cleared 6-4 to come third in the high jump, he had never cleared 6-0. 

    So what fueled this career day? That speaks to the drive he has overall. Before that day, a fellow high school athlete, Boyd Dietzen, beat him in nearly every event. And Will McDonald had had enough of losing to him.  

    “My biggest inspiration was Boyd Dietzen,” McDonald said. “Practically, it was because he always beats me in everything, so that’s the person I looked up to. I always wanted to get first or get ahead of him. He was always one step above me.”

    [Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

    He was named the conference Player of the Year in Basketball that same year.  Football is the sport he chose to pursue. But Will McDonald has excelled across several sports. He even played some baseball in high school too.  

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