2020 NFL Draft Profile: Hawaii QB Cole McDonald
The Warriors quarterback didn’t have many dull moments in college, but how does the raw package translate to the pros?
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Explosive and erratic, which will win out?
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The Tennessee Titans take Cole McDonald with the 224th pick which could be an interesting fit with Ryan Tannehill could just maybe allow McDonald time to develop into a possible contributor maybe even a starter in a few years.
Last year, the Detroit Lions selected former Hawaii linebacker Jahlani Tavai in the second round. The overall reaction amounted to… “who?”
Even for NFL fans who aren’t accustomed to staying up late on Saturday nights throughout the fall, though, it’s hard to imagine that happening again to Cole McDonald, who thrilled and frustrated seemingly at will over the last two seasons with the Warriors. His standing as a prospect isn’t quite that of fellow Mountain West quarterback Jordan Love, but there’s plenty to dream on for an NFL team with a sense of adventure.
Want to find a gunslinger in this year’s draft class? Look no further.
Arm strength, for one, won’t be a problem since, as The Draft Network’s Kyle Crabbs notes, McDonald possesses “all the juice you could possibly hope for”. Managing the run-and-shoot also gave him plenty of opportunity to attack the entire field with confidence, as evidenced by an ability to attack the seams (according to Draft Wire’s Patrick Conn) and work through progressions for the right play (according to NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein).
McDonald has above-average athleticism compared to many of the other quarterbacks in this year’s class, as well, as evidenced by a 4.58-second 40-yard dash that’s in the same neighborhood as previous prospects like Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick, and Russell Wilson. His vertical and broad jumps were better than Kaepernick and Wilson, too, and he combines that with a willingness to, as Zierlein puts it, “bang near [the] goal line”.
That toughness works for him as a passer, too, as he’s demonstrated a willingness to hang in and take shots to take a shot down the field. Combined with his history of playing well despite injury, McDonald has done more than enough to prove he’s a tough son of a gun.
Want to find a gunslinger in this year’s draft class? Just recognize that McDonald will need a lot of polish.
For one, there are concerns about his lengthy windup, which multiple analysts have compared to Philip Rivers, and overall mechanics. For example, while he had his fair share of downfield darts, Zierlein noted that his deep ball got wobbly at times. Combined with spotty ball placement, it has the effect of, in Crabbs’s words, creating too many “hospital balls” and, in the eyes of pretty much every prognosticator, too much unnecessary risk. If you’re wondering why he got benched multiple times last fall for Chevan Cordeiro, this is why.
McDonald is going to have to wait a while to hear his name called but, in an increasingly pass-happy NFL, someone is going to convince themselves that they can maximize his tools. He’ll be a Day Three selection, probably in round five or six.