Draft Central: Rice TE Vance McDonald
Rice knows about having a versatile tight end at their disposal.
James Casey played tight end for the Owls in 2007-08 and was put pretty much everywhere on the field. In 2007 Casey lined up at seven different positions during one game and played everything from defensive end to safety to quarterback to wide receiver. At 25, Casey was a fifth round selection by the Texans. Vance McDonald never played safety for the Owls, but there’s a good chance McDonald will go higher than Casey come draft day.
“He’s a bigger James and is as fast as James and has the same kind of hands as James has,” John McClain of the Houston Chronicle said. “He’s just going to be drafted higher because James was a 25-year-old rookie.”
McDonald was the Owls top receiver in 2010, earning him the George R. Brown Award. In 2011, McDonald caught 43 balls for 452 yards and five touchdowns. His production dipped a bit during his senior season, 36 catches for 458 yards and two touchdowns, but it was the senior bowl that landed him on the national scene.
“I think Vance jumped on people’s radar at the Senior Bowl if you were there, at least he did for me,” Draft Central analyst Lance Zierlein said. “Then when he got to the NFL Combine the Mike Mayock’s of the world and the national guys where like wow. Combination of speed, size strength and he’s just scratching the surface.”
McDonald dominated the NFL Combine with 31 reps on the bench, 119 inch broad jump and a 4.69 40-yard dash. He’s a great receiver and spent most of his time in the slot for the Owls. That could be something a lot of teams like but they also are wondering if he can block.
“The fact that he lined up in the slot is intriguing,” McClain said. “If you are a willing blocker you can be taught.”
“When you see him block he just annihilate safeties and corners," Zierlein added. “You can see how heavy those hands are and you can project that.”
When you have some one that is as versatile as Casey and McDonald the importance is to get into a system that can utilize the specific skill set they have.
“I hope for Vance’s sake he goes somewhere where a team will understand how to use him," Draft Central analyst John Harris said. “I think we see teams draft players and they get them there and they know they have a great chess piece. I want him to go somewhere where a team will use him and use him effectively.”