2013 NFL Draft Scouting Report: TJ McDonald

Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

George Wilson's signing does not mean the Titans still shouldn't look at a safety in the early rounds of the draft.

At 31 years old, George Wilson is probably not the starting safety of the next great Titans team. He's what is known in the business as a "stopgap" player. Not to say that he isn't a good pick up or talented player, but he's not exactly a "build for the future" kind of move. USC's young safety TJ McDonald might be a viable replacement to Wilson in as late a round as the third. Much the like previously highlighted William Gholston, McDonald was a big name in college that doesn't grade out as an elite NFL prospect at this point for various reasons, totally perfect for the third round.

Measurables

Height: 6'3"

Weight: 205 lbs

40-yard dash: 4.59

Bench press: 19 (AKA still more than Damontre Moore)

Vertical jump: 40 inches

Broad jump: 131 inches

Statistics

Sophomore Year (2010-2011):

  • 89 tackles
  • 3 INT
Junior Year (2011-2012):
  • 67 tackles
  • 2 INT
Senior Year (2012-2013):
  • 112 tackles
  • 2 INT
  • 4th in the Pac-12 in tackles
Games Watched:


Positives

McDonald is a very athletic safety. He brings a lot of intimidation factor to a defense with his size and strength. He uses this athleticism to get through the mayhem that ensues after the ball is snapped. Something I noticed was that he just looked way more comfortable when playing in the box. He's the anti-Jamie Harper in that he actually uses his big frame to his advantage. He has a reputation for being physical. Really rangy for his position despite not having top notch speed. Something I liked was that he looked really instinctive at times, especially at the Senior Bowl.

Negatives

Honestly, I understand where the reputation and Kam Chancellor comparisons are coming from, but I just didn't see a whole lot of that in the three games I watched. He was absolutely victimized by Oregon. Not that many players weren't, but it's not something you like to see when tape that is supposed to be following McDonald ends up looking like the Kenjon Barner show. Austin Hill also seemed to have a big game against him. Speaking of his tackling, it just wasn't all that technically sound. A lot of arm tackling, a couple times where he failed to wrap up and sort of launched himself at larger targets, check 5:40 of the Oregon game for a classic example of how Kenjon Barner's speed makes anyone trying to take an angle look dumb. I understand that not everything can be a perfect form tackle and I also understand the appeal of a launching tackle, but there is definitely a reason they teach it the way they do.

I'm not sold on him being a great run defender for his position. He looked extremely reserved at times when he was forced to sit back in the open field. I'm not sure I'd even keep him at safety in the NFL because he looks way more comfortable up closer to the line and because he flat out can't cover NFL receivers. He has some natural ability in coverage, but when all that "natural ability" yields is questions about you coverage skills and a streaky track record when placed deep, that probably won't be enough.

Overall Impression

Do not want. McDonald hopefully has a bright NFL future ahead of him, but I think he's far too "hit or miss" for my liking. He represents all that is wrong with the current manifestation of the Titans' secondary: take poor angles, lots of arm tackles, just kind of unfortunately overmatched when put up against the best competition. Also he simply won't be able to cover guys in the NFL. If I were an NFL team with a proven track record of taking projects like this (i.e., good athlete, good intangibles, kind of lacks a position) and turning them into successes at other positions, I'd be all over McDonald because you just look at him and see some of the plays he makes and go "this is a future NFL player". Unfortunately, this isn't the Titans. Nothing about this regime screams "innovator" to me. In fact, nothing about this regime so much as whispers innovator. Even if he were to drop to the fourth round, I feel like his talent would be totally squandered here because we'd try to plug him in at strong safety once Wilson leaves and that spells disaster.

Situationally, I could see him excelling with a little coaching, but coaching is not something that the Titans do well and I don't much feel like wasting a fourth round draft pick our guys can't develop. He may find success somewhere else because he's such a freakin' good athlete and has skills that translate well to the football field, but because I am a fan of the Titans, pass.

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