NFL Draft Profile: Hawaii QB Cole McDonald

by Blaine Grisak
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When it comes to the NFL Draft, the Los Angeles Rams may not be in the market for a quarterback on day one or two. However, with John Wolford as the only other quarterback on the roster outside of Jared Goff, there is a decent chance that they are in the market on day three and in undrafted free agency.

One of the quarterbacks that head coach Sean McVay should most certainly have his eye on in the NFL Draft is Cole McDonald.

College Bio

NIcknamed “C-Money” for a reason, Cole McDonald red-shirted as a freshman before taking over as a sophomore. In his first year as the full-time starter in 2018, McDonald changed the direction of the Hawaii football program. After seven consecutive non-winning seasons and without a bowl appearance in six of those, McDonald led the Rainbow Warriors to an 8-6 record and appearance in the Hawaii Bowl.

The quarterback threw 36 touchdown passes which ranked sixth the NCAA and was named all-Mountain West honorable mention.

That was just the beginning for McDonald. He would lead Hawaii to only its second 10-win season since 2008 as a junior and lead the Mountain West in five passing categories. Named second-team all-Mountain West, he led Hawaii to its first Bowl win since 2016, defeating BYU 38-34, and its first appearance in the Mountain West championship game as it was introduced in 2013.

McDonald enters the NFL Draft as one of the more intriguing quarterback prospects.


Height: 6’3
Weight: 215-lbs
Hand size: 9-3/4


McDonald stands tall in the pocket with a lot of poise but can be a statue. He isn’t phased by pressure and often gets through his progressions as he has the ability to read defenses. McDonald may not look fast, but he has the pull away speed and ability to pick up large chunks with his legs. While he has that scrambling ability, he doesn’t drop his eyes as he remains looking downfield for an outlet pass and open receiver.

His arm strength is his biggest strength. While not the strongest in the class, he has a huge arm with the ability to sling the ball into tight windows. He has a Phillip Rivers-esque motion, but it has plenty of pace to make all of the throws.


Some of his decisions are questionable and lead to interceptions. He threw 10+ interceptions in each of his last two years at Hawaii. He needs to learn to throw the ball away and live to see another down. McDonald is a big risk-taker but needs to learn not to take unnecessary risks.

He displays good accuracy, but his deep ball is very inconsistent. He has balls where he’ll hit the receiver in stride and then because of his mechanics he will undershoot or overthrow his deep ball target.

Due to his athleticism, he is a runner. However, he needs to learn to slide. McDonald tends to take too many unnecessary hits.

Three Plays on Tape

On this play, you get to see McDonald’s athleticism on full display. Not all of his runs come out of the read-option as he will tuck and run in the pocket. Here he pulls away from the entire defense with his speed.

McDonald isn’t just a runner or an athlete. He can make all of the throws. Here he splits five BYU defenders to find his receiver in the middle of the field. McDonald stands tall in the pocket and delivers an accurate pass.

Finally, McDonald’s arm strength. It’s obvious that the ball just shoots out his hand like its being blasted from a cannon. He hits his receiver in stride and it results in a touchdown. His ball nevrer loses velocity or dies. This is one thing that makes McDonald special and worth taking a late flyer on.


McDonald isn’t going to come in and start right away. He needs to work on his processing, understanding defenses, and his mechanics. However, there is no doubt in my mind that he can eventually become a starter. His arm strength paired with his athleticism is special. For him, it’s just going to be about cleaning up his game and making better decisions with the ball.

Draft Grade: 6th-7th Round

Bottom Line

Cole McDonald has all of the physical tools to succeed in the NFL. His decision making and accuracy are somewhat inconsistent, but he can sling it. This is someone that a team can draft, let sit for part of or a full season, and then trust him to the backup and eventually start.

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