Cole McDonald is making a case to be considered a “diamond in the rough” prospect ahead of the 2020 NFL Draft.
When you first start to think of what colleges to look at for NFL prospects, the University of Hawaii doesn’t come to mind. The Rainbow Warriors don’t play most of their games until most of the country is sleeping and have only had five players drafted in the last decade. But, down in the Aloha State, there’s a kid that deserves some national respect- Cole McDonald.
The gun-slinging junior from California has quietly been one of the most exciting players in college football. Though he has obvious major flaws, there’s a reason that Cole forwent his senior eligibility to enter the 2020 NFL Draft. He has obvious talent and has a legitimate case on why he should be selected over some names who may get more clout than garners.
Weight: 220 pounds.
Accuracy: McDonald’s arm talent is obvious when turning on the tape. He can make the necessary throws in the shorter range, but beyond that can be very streaky. For someone with such a great arm, it’s satisfying to see him be so inconsistent with his throws.
Some of his misses could be attributed to his inability to lead receivers, and him simply wrongly anticipating the break of the route. He does have great footwork and his throwing base is actually one of the best in the class. He puts some great touch on the ball, but he also can put none of it on at all and it can lead to some throws that get away from him laterally.
His accuracy isn’t putrid, but not anything to rave about either. The potential is there thanks to his great motion and base, but he needs to prove that he can become more consistent in order to stick around the league.
Progressions and Decision Making: There are many times McDonald’s makes you want to throw your monitor out the window when watching his tape. For a kid so talented, he can make some ridiculous decisions. There are just a few moments where a child playing Madden would make a better decision with the ball than that of McDonald’s.
For someone who by all accounts is quite intelligent, you can’t help but cringe when he gets so easily bated by the defense. He needs to be better at reading coverages and being able to understand what route by his receiver will be most effective against said coverage.
In Hawaii’s offense, he wasn’t asked much to actually scan the field and make a read. When he did though, he turned his head to slow, which forced him to rush throws and deliver an inaccurate ball. He needs to work on going through his progressions in a timely manner and not obviously locking in on his first read like so many prospects in this class are guilty of.
Pocket Presence: He can definitely hang in the pocket better than some in this class. When he sees pressure he tends to step up and try to make a throw, but again, he can rush his process which correlates with a terrible throw.
When he rolls out it seems he lacks urgency, and that won’t bode well at the next level where NFL pass rushers can close in on you in the blink of an eye. It was hard to pinpoint how comfortable he would be in an offense that isn’t solely ran out of the shotgun because that’s the formation he ran almost every play out of at Hawaii. Though he wasn’t horrible here, he wasn’t great either- just passable.
Throw Accuracy Short: 8/10
Throw Accuracy Mid Distance: 6/10
Throw Accuracy Deep: 6.5/10
Throw Power: 7/8
Throw on the Run: 5/8
It Factor: 5.5/8
Ball Placement: 6/12
Decision Making: 5/10
Injury Risk: 4/4
Pocket Presence: 5/8
Final Film Grade: 63.9 (QB8)
If you want a low-risk long-term project, Cole McDonald is your guy. His work ethic and love for the game are unmatched, and teams will surely fall in love with that.
His playstyle is perfectly applicable to the current NFL landscape, and at worst he can be a backup for many years to come. The fact he played for a small school is clearly a concern for most, but I don’t think it’s a big deal at all. In games against higher competition, he seemed fairly comfortable and showed his arm talent transferred at that next level.
There’s obvious talent here. He has much more talent and a higher ceiling than most are giving him credit for. In a couple of years, McDonald could be a legitimate fringe starter in the league. A team would be wise to use a mid to late-round flyer on him as they might’ve just found the next diamond in the rough.