The NFL Draft is littered with first round quarterbacks who either nobody knew about heading into their final season or nobody was even considering them to be a first round pick. And NFL Draft writers and analysts are trying to find that next Daniel Jones, Baker Mayfield or even Carson Wentz. One name that has gotten some potential first round NFL Draft buzz is Hawaii’s Cole McDonald. An for a former 2 Star recruit who only had scholarship offers from Hawaii and Alabama A&M that would be a huge accomplishment. Here we take a look at Cole McDonald’s traits and what his NFL Draft potential could be.
What Cole McDonald Does Well
In his first year as the starter Cole McDonald exploded throwing 3,875 yards and a video game esq 36 touchdowns. While playing in the Air Raid offense helps McDonald does show the ability to throw with touch and anticipation that helps as he doesn’t have a cannon for an arm. On his short to intermediate throws he doesn’t have to wait for the receiver to break open and can see the defender and throw to the spot often before his receiver is making a break, so if his pass does flutter a bit it still will allow his receiver the best chance at the ball. On deeper throws McDonald isn’t able to drive the ball but instead he can put some air under it and show some touch to drop it down to the receiver as they are still in stride.
While I wouldn’t put McDonald in the same category as Kyler Murray, but the Hawaii quarterback can also use his feet to his advantage. McDonald has some quickness to him that he’s able to use to slide around in the pocket and even move outside to keep the play alive and find his open receivers. The above clip is a prime example as he was able to make a move to his right and then step up to hit his receiver flashing over the middle of the field.
Concerns about Cole McDonald
While completion percentage doesn’t always tell the whole story, there is plenty of evidence in McDonald’s game that says his 58% says that he is an inaccurate passer. The big part of this is far too many of McDonald’s passes are off target. Whether it’s too low or high for the receiver to be able to make the catch or even forcing the receiver to adjust and have a defender make a hit to jar the ball loose there are plenty of passes that hit the ground. But what else doesn’t help is that McDonald will stare down his receivers which gives the defensive backs even more of a chance to breaking up passes. So even if McDonald does make the the throw before the receiver is making his break, if the defensive back is watching the quarterback that is negated.
NFL Draft Outlook
While Cole McDonald put up some good numbers and shows some traits to be more than just a system quarterback, this talk of him going in the first round is just wishful thinking. Instead McDonald is likely battling to be drafted and considered to be a developmental backup. His ability to throw with anticipation does help, but if he can’t throw it accurately then does it really matter?