Vance McDonald TE Rice #88
Size/Athleticism: Lacks elite height but has the long arms and big hands to make up for it. Very well built. Among the strongest tight ends in this year’s class. Surprisingly dangerous after the catch. Rice frequently lined him up in the slot and used him on screens and quick passes in the flat.
Separation Skills: Lots of experience lining up in the slot helped develop his route running, but due to offensive system and quarterback play he wasn’t targeted downfield frequently.
Ball Skills: Shaky hands. He double catches the ball too often. On deeper routes, needs to do a better job high-pointing the ball. Lets the ball come to him and doesn’t always do a great job adjusting to the ball in the air.
Blocking: Limited experience as an in-line blocker, as he was frequently lined up in the slot at Rice. But he definitely has the strength and shows the effort to excel as a blocker against the run and in pass protection. He’s a physical blocker and really tries to finish guys off. Showed off his blocking skills at the Senior Bowl, and may have answered any questions that stemmed from his limited experience.
Intangibles: No positives or negatives of note.
Durability: Missed three games with toe injury in 2012.
Comments: McDonald has an intriguing skill set, but the way he was used at Rice raises some question as to how he’ll transition to the next level. He was basically a slot receiver at Rice, but built like an in-line tight end. But despite playing receiver, he was rarely targeted downfield. He lacks the athleticism to play the same role in the NFL, so he’ll need to improve upon his NFL tight end routes and also his in-line blocking skills. He also has very shaky hands, which further raises questions about his ability to contribute immediately. Overall, it’s easy to envision him developing into a quality starter, but he should be viewed as a developmental prospect.