T.J. McDonald: Video Highlights for Former USC Safety

Matt GoldsteinContributor IIApril 26, 2013

T.J. McDonald: Video Highlights for Former USC Safety

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    T.J. McDonald put together an exceptional career as a safety at USC, and he looks to make an even bigger impact in the NFL.

    But don't think of McDonald as the next ball-hawking Ed Reed. In fact, don't even think of him as any type of competent coverage safety.

    McDonald is a physical beast, possessing the ability to absolutely destroy any ball-carrier crossing his path.

    He is a great run defender, and that is where he will make his impact at the next level.

    So, for the love of big, exciting hits, here are some McDonald highlights.

A Monster Hit on Arizona State's Jamal Miles

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    First and foremost, T.J. McDonald is known as a devastating tackler who can wreak as much havoc as a linebacker.

    In this play, McDonald puts that knowledge on display.

    Arizona State receiver Jamal Miles had just gotten a bubble screen from Brock Osweiler, and he saw a huge expanse of open field in front of him.

    Miles took advantage of his huge opening and ran for more than 15 yards, but then his path crossed McDonald's. 

    McDonald stepped up and delivered a bone-crushing hit that excited lovers of old-school football and gave chills to those who advocate player safety.

    Despite your personal opinion of whether the play was legal or not, you must admit that McDonald showed just how physically superior he is in this play.

T.J. McDonald Lays Down Oregon Receiver

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    David Paulson never stood a chance.

    It looked like Oregon tight end Pauslon had just made a huge catch for the Ducks' high-powered offense. He ran a route directly over the middle of the field, and he was just beginning to bring the first-down reception under control.

    But then T.J. McDonald happened.

    McDonald stepped up and absolutely crushed Paulson, forcing him to lose control of the football.

    In the NFL, one can expect this type of play often from McDonald. While he is not regarded as even an average coverage safety, he is able to deliver huge hits in the middle of the field and disrupt easy receptions.

An Exceptional Play Against the Run

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    For a moment, it appeared that Sammy MacFarlane was about to pick up some decent yardage; he had the ball in space with a lead blocker out in front of him. No one was near him. 

    But then, all of a sudden, T.J. McDonald shot the gap and easily brought MacFarlane to the ground.

    In this play, McDonald displays two key attributes that are critical to his run-defending success.

    The first is that McDonald understands angles very well, and that when he chooses the correct one, he can run downfield at an incredible speed and make a play on the ball.

    The second is that McDonald has the talent to be an excellent form tackler when he's not attempting to make a huge hit that will later be aired on ESPN. 

    In the play, McDonald makes contact with his shoulder pads and immediately wraps his arms around the ball-carrier, the perfect way to make a tackle in open space.

    Here, McDonald proved that he can make a large impact on the run defense of any NFL team.

McDonald Plays the Role of a Pass-Rusher and Gets the Sack

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    Lined up on the right side of the defense, it was fairly clear that T.J. McDonald was about to blitz the quarterback.

    This knowledge, however, did nothing to help the offensive line stop the onslaught that McDonald was about to bring upon them.

    McDonald shot off the right side, quickly bursting past the offensive lineman. Seeing that his cause was lost, the lineman shoved McDonald in the back, but instead of losing his composure, he managed to maintain control and launch himself directly into the quarterback.

    This sack shows how dangerous of a pass-rusher McDonald can be at the next level.

    He possesses a quick burst, and this will allow him to catch linemen by surprise on safety blitzes, and he should be able to reach the quarterback fairly quickly.

A Rare Interception

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    Throughout T.J. McDonald's collegiate career, the majority of his interceptions were the result of terribly thrown passes by quarterbacks that somehow managed to find their way directly into McDonald's hands.

    This interception is one of the few exceptions.

    McDonald was trailing the receiver throughout the entire route, and he gave the opposing quarterback the perception that he had an open receiver in the end zone.

    As soon as the ball was released, however, McDonald jumped the route and caught an important interception in the red zone.

    It is common knowledge that McDonald is not the best coverage safety. In this instance, though, he displayed a foundation that can be improved upon by NFL secondary coaches.

A Great Goal-Line Stand

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    In a crazy goal-line play, UCLA quarterback Kevin Prince found he had nowhere to run.

    The original play call was meant to be an option run to the right side, but penetration by the USC defense blew the play up.

    So, instead of giving up, Prince improvised.

    He quickly reversed direction, and for a moment it appeared he was about to sneak into the left corner of the end zone.

    But then McDonald exploded onto the scene, looking very much like a middle linebacker shooting a gap. He showed up his incredible closing speed and quickly cut off Prince's route to the end zone.

    He then brought Prince down in the open field, making a huge goal-line stop for the USC defense.

A Display of His Special Teams Ability

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    Due to McDonald's lack of coverage skills, he will not be an immediate starter in the NFL.

    This will not, however, deter him from making an immediate impact.

    McDonald will likely be brought into the game in run-stopping situations, but he will make his largest impact felt on special teams.

    His ability to bring ball-carriers down in open space, paired with his superior strength and speed, will make McDonald a great special teams player.