McDonald puts versatility on display at Pro Day

Will McDonald wants to be his own kind of player.

The Iowa State edge rusher put that unique versatility on display in Ames while tallying a school-record 34 sacks, earning All-American and three-time first-team All-Big 12 honors.

Now, he’s putting that versatility on display for professional scouts ahead of the NFL Draft next month in Kansas City.

“I did martial arts, basketball, wrestling. I played a bit of soccer. I kind of just took all of that and that’s made me a versatile player. I’m kind of built like Will McDonald,” McDonald told the media at Iowa State’s Pro Day on Tuesday. “Kind of just wanted to like build my own character. Obviously, watching TJ Watt, Von Miller and Aaron Donald and all of them, I just kind of put everything together and everything they got in common is smooth and smooth is fast and so I just kind of made it into my own versatile player.”

McDonald, a 6-foot-3, 245-pound Milwaukee native, is currently regarded as a fringe first-round or early second-round pick in most mock drafts. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has him going No. 24 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

That area of draft prognostication puts McDonald in line to potentially be Iowa State’s first selection in the first round since George Amundson in 1973.

Even with the ability to make program history, McDonald isn’t worrying about where he’ll be selected or who will be the ones selecting him.

“I never really got into that. God led the path. I don’t care about being first round, second, third,” McDonald said. “At the end of the day, we’re all doing the same job. It’s about production and doing what you do.”

McDonald said he was hoping to put a little bit of everything on display for the NFL scouts on Tuesday in Ames. He specifically noted his speed, drop and bend as things he hoped scouts took note of from the drills.

This was his first opportunity to put his skills on display at full strength since the end of his senior year at Iowa State. He battled through an illness that left him with a fever over 100 degrees during the NFL Scouting Combine last month.

The assembled NFL personnel even included Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.

“It’s an honor,” McDonald said when asked about Tomlin’s presence. “Getting a lot of information and a lot of knowledge. Whole bunch of new stuff being thrown at me but I’m able to take it and make it into something.”

McDonald will continue to work on his game and hopes to bring his weight up to 250 pounds before starting his rookie season. He has only a little more than a month left before he’ll find out whose uniform he’ll be wearing.

“It’s a pretty cool process,” McDonald said. “It went exactly how I expected. God gave me the plan and just led the way. I did how I expected to do.”

Jared Stansbury


Jared a native of Clarinda, Iowa, started as the Cyclone Fanatic intern in August 2013, primarily working as a videographer until starting on the women’s basketball beat prior to the 2014-15 season. Upon earning his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Iowa State in May 2016, Jared was hired as the site’s full-time staff writer, taking over as the primary day-to-day reporter on football and men’s basketball. He was elevated to the position of managing editor in January 2020. He is a regular contributor on 1460 KXNO in Des Moines and makes regular guest appearances on radio stations across the Midwest. Jared resides in Ankeny with his four-year-old puggle, Lolo.