Photo of Vance McDonald
Drafted By: 49ers
  • Round 2
  • Pick 23
  • Overall 55

Combine Results

76.0 ?
  • 4.69 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 31 REPS
    Top Performer
  • 33.5 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 119.0 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 7.08 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 4.53 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 11.73 SEC
    Top Performer
Blue Star  =  Combine Top Performer

Draft Analysis:

Of the 36 catches McDonald recorded at Rice in 2012, 28 were for first downs. The NFL Scouting Combine standout (31 reps on the bench press; 7.08-second three-cone) can help the Niners replace Delanie Walker, who left via free agency.

  • 6'4" Height
  • 34 3/8" Arm Length
  • 267LBS. Weight
  • 10 1/8" Hands


McDonald, the son of a former Texas Longhorns linebacker, did not receive the attention of large collegiate programs out of high school. One reason could be his hometown of Winnie, Texas, which has a population of less than 3,500 people. Even though he comes from a small town, McDonald has big-time talent and displayed plenty of that during Senior Bowl week.

Despite his size and NFL projection, McDonald was mostly used as a slot receiver throughout his career, creating a size and physical mismatch in both the passing and running games. In his first season, McDonald caught 12 passes but missed two games due to an injury. He quickly turned into Rice's top receiving option in 2010, amassing 396 yards and eight touchdowns on 28 receptions. In that same year, McDonald was named the Owls' top receiver after earning the George R. Brown Award. In 2011, McDonald continued his consistent production, catching 43 passes for 452 yards and five touchdowns. His numbers dipped a bit as a senior, collecting 36 catches for 458 yards and two touchdowns. McDonald also finished the season as the team's long snapper.



Used all over the formation but mainly as a slot receiver. Smooth athlete, comfortable in space for someone his size. Engages with good hand placement when blocking, uses body to shield off running lane. Very long arms, flashes using them to his advantage when run blocking. Sticks to the latch even if jolted on first contact. Flashes driving smaller defenders to the ground. Fluid mover after the catch, natural with the ball in his hands, reads upfield blocks and cuts off of them. Plenty of receiver screens, shows patience and strength to finish off runs. Snap-to-whistle player, known to make multiple blocks on the same play. Comfortable with bucket catches. Quickly turns upfield and makes the most of each play. Can make contested catches. Hands catcher away from his body.


Lacks strength on first contact. Majority of blocking took place in space, no inline, which could show in NFL. At least one drop or bobble per game, occurred even more often at the Senior Bowl. Most occur when he has to adjust or move off his stationary spot. Other times when the ball gets there quickly, unexpected targets. Would like to see him high point more frequently.

NFL Comparison

Todd Heap

Bottom Line

Despite being built like an inline tight end, the majority of McDonald's experience is in the slot. This certainly helps his comfort blocking on the edge and as a receiver who picks up yards after the catch. In fact, McDonald is still learning how to use his frame effectively. Teams could view the Rice product as an inline prospect or as a Joker mismatch, but either way McDonald should be selected on the second day.
Grade Title Draft (Round) Description
96-100 Future Hall of Famer Top Pick A once-in-a-generation type prospect who could change how his position is played
85-95 Immediate Starter 1st An impact player with the ability/intangibles to become a Pro Bowl player. Expect to start immediately except in a unique situation (i.e. behind a veteran starter).
70-84 Eventual Starter 2nd-3rd A quality player who will contribute to the team early on and is expected to develop into a starter. A reliable player who brings value to the position.
50-69 Draftable Player 4th-7th A prospect with the ability to make team as a backup/role player. Needs to be a special teams contributor at applicable positions. Players in the high range of this category might have long-term potential.
20-49 Free Agent UDFA A player with solid measurables, intangibles, college achievements, or a developing skill that warrants an opportunity in an NFL camp. In the right situation, he could earn a place on a 53-man roster, but most likely will be a practice squad player or a camp body.