Scouting On DT Clinton McDonald Part I

There's not a whole lot of information out there on the Seahawks new acquisition, DT Clinton McDonald. Luckily Joe Goodberry, a contributor and scout for the SBN Bengals site Cincy Jungle, was nice enough to provide a scouting report on him for Field Gulls. 

Here's what Joe Goodberry wrote:

Strengths:
Clinton McDonald is a quick DT who is at his best in passing situations. He can get under the pads of opposing guards and push them into the backfield or use his agility to go around blockers. He gets a good jump on the snap of the ball and usually forces the offensive lineman to play in recovery mode. McDonald has a great motor and work ethic.

Weaknesses:
Clinton McDonald is small by most DT standards. He won't ever be great against the run because of his size. He can get engulfed by big offensive guards in the run game and won't be able to shed the blocks. Still is raw in terms of playing experience.


What the Seahawks are getting:
Coming out of Memphis in 2009, Clinton McDonald was labeled as undersized and raw by most scouts. He played NT in a 3-4 in college at his size but still found a way to be a penetrating DT. He needed to bulk up and get stronger while keeping his quickness and refining his techniques if McDonald wanted to stick in the NFL as a 7th round pick. In his first two seasons with the Bengals, he bounced between the practice squad and limited action on the 53-man roster. When McDonald wasn't active, he always met the team bus late at night after road games with words of encouragement or celebration. He became a fan favorite and a teammate that seemed to be well liked.

The first practice of training camp in 2011, McDonald was noticeably bigger and stronger. He didn't lose his agility and was playing with great leverage and technique. It was clear within a few practices that he was one of the best DTs on the roster. Not long after his performance vs. the Lions (8 tackles, 1 TFL), Tank Johnson was released from the Bengals. It looked as though McDonald was a lock to make this roster. Since then, Adam Jones has been placed on the PUP and the Bengals need for a CB became their biggest hole.

I hate to say that I feel like the Seahawks are getting the better end of this deal because Jennings was a former first round pick, but I strongly feel like Clinton McDonald has just come into his own in his third NFL season. He's now an NFL caliber DT with his potential arrow still pointing upwards. I'm not sure if he'll ever be a full-time starter at DT and I'm not sure how the Seahawks are going to use him, but if he's allowed to pass rush from the nickel packages, you guys should see results. You're getting a good player even though he's not well known.

It's good to hear coming from a guy who has watched McDonald closely this preseason. Goodberry mentions that apart from the improvement McDonald had displayed on the field, that 'when McDonald wasn't active, he always met the team bus late at night after road games with words of encouragement or celebration. He became a fan favorite and a teammate that seemed to be well liked.'

This kind of thing isn't important if McDonald doesn't make the team but for an organization that doesn't have a lot of leadership from the top down due to youth, having good locker room guys never hurts. McDonald was elected as a team captain at Memphis his junior and senior years as well (apparently it's very rare for a junior to be elected captain at that program). If he can live up to some of Goodberry's accolades the Seahawks may have found a diamond in the rough. It's unlikely, but time will tell. 

As Thomas mentioned in his story yesterday, McDonald is a bit of an athletic freak -- he's gained about 15-20 pounds in the two years since his pro day, but as this story points out, "the 6-2, 283-pound son of Larry and Bonnie McDonald of Jacksonville, re-opened scouts' eyes with his 36 reps (in the 225-pound bench press), his 38-inch vertical leap and his average of 4.83 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the Memphis pro day camp. He was suddenly projected as a sixth-, fifth or even fourth-round prospect heading into last weekend."

Interestingly, (I guess), McDonald was chosen (249th overall in 2009) directly following the Seahawks choices of Nick Reed and Cameron Morrah at 247 and 248. There was a few brief minutes there where Clinton believed he'd be chosen by the Hawks and now two years later he has ended up with them. Here's to hoping he has what it takes to stick. 

For what it's worth, Tank Johnson, who was just released by the Bengals, had this to say about McDonald:

"Bengals sent a helluva player to Seattle! Must be hurtin at CB, that's a big move! Clint McDonald is that deal! Seahawks came up Fasho!"

It's a good sign anyway.

I reached out to Derek Stephens of The Blue Bird Herd as well (Derek scouts for Lindy's and works with Rob Rang, so he's an excellent resource) and he had an in-depth scouting report on McDonald as well that included updated information since McDonald has been with the Bengals. I'll break this out into two posts so it doesn't get too long and I'll follow up later on today with Derek Stephens take, so stay tuned. 


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