Will McDonald IV | Iowa State 6’4” 239 lbs. | 06/04/1999 (23)
Will McDonald IV was drafted by the New York Jets, becoming the fourth Edge Rusher and the 15th overall player selected in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Will McDonald only played football for two years in high school but still managed to earn 1st-team all-state honors in Wisconsin. He redshirted at Iowa State in 2018 but appeared in four games registering three tackles and one sack as more of a hybrid off-ball/LOS linebacker. McDonald played as a reserve in 13 games in 2019, collecting six sacks and 15 total tackles, and made the transition from linebacker to defensive end during that season. In 2020 he earned first-team All-Big 12 Conference honors by tying for the FBS lead with 10.5 sacks and logging 33 total tackles and 13.5 TFLs in 12 games as a rotational edge defender. McDonald bested his own school record with 11.5 sacks in 2021 while totaling 36 tackles and another 13 TFLs, forcing five fumbles over 13 games as a starter. He was named a third-team Associated Press All-American and the Big 12 Co-Defensive Lineman of the Year for his efforts.
Last season, McDonald regressed a bit as the focal point of opposing offenses’ blocking schemes. He started all 12 games and recorded 36 tackles, 7.5 TFLs, five sacks, and four passes defensed and was again voted first-team all-conference.
Will McDonald is an explosive and flexible pass-rush specialist with active hands and slippery moves. He has learned and developed moves and counterattacks and has a decent array of winning moves, in addition to exceptional get-off. He shows good strength and balance during the pass rush, but he is undersized as a run defender. McDonald will struggle to hold firm on the edge against running attacks at the next level. Still, he is a gritty player who does not lack desire, and over time he can increase his size and develop some veteran savvy to improve as a run defender. His intensity and pass-rush-win ability are attributes that will help him be successful early in a rotational role as a pass-rush specialist.
McDonald did not run at the NFL Scouting Combine, as it was reported he was dealing with a high fever, but he did record very impressive jumps of 36” in the vertical and 11’0” in the broad before participating in a few position drills for coaches.
Rapid Reaction to Draft Capital: Excellent
Rapid Reaction to Landing Spot: Good
McDonald IV was selected with the 31st overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs.
Will McDonald IV surprises many and ends up landing excellent draft capital as a top-15 draft pick. He is an incredibly athletic pass rusher who is lean and muscular. The Jets’ landing spot is a good one that will offer him time to amass more strength and size that will benefit him in the future. Additionally, the Jets already have some edge defenders who can contribute and allow McDonald to play in a pass-rush specialist role. Additionally, with the Aaron Rodgers trade now completed, the Jets could play with a lead more often than usual, which benefits all pass rushers. For IDP fantasy purposes, McDonald will be a boom or bust play this season, as he may be a sub-50% snap rate player throughout this season, though he is athletic and talented enough already to rack up some sacks against NFL offensive tackles. There will be splash plays, but consistent scoring at the edge position from McDonald will have to wait until 2024 and beyond.
McDonald is your author’s rookie DE8 of this talented EDGE class, but dynasty owners must recognize he will probably not be ready to play full-time right away and should be utilized as a pass rush specialist for the majority of this season. He should become a reliable scorer in most IDP formats by 2024 and if he reaches his full potential can be viewed as a borderline DE1 in 2025 and beyond. Expect to see him drafted in the mid-to-late third round of dynasty rookie drafts.
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