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Miami Hurricanes 2022 Path to the NFL Draft: OL Navaughn Donaldson

Once a Top Tier Prospect and Despite Experience at Multiple Positions, the Mauler Faces an Uphill Battle due to untimely injuries as he seeks an NFL Roster Spot

Virginia Tech v Miami Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

As a Miami native from Miami Central High, Navaughn Donaldson has been a fixture for Miami’s offensive line since 2017 (and really since 2015 when he committed). As a highly touted recruit, Donaldson immediately made an impact for the Canes and showed versatility at a number of positions. However, an untimely injury in his third year derailed his progress.

Regardless, Navaughn hopes to surprised some NFL scouts during his workouts and carve out a roster spot at the next level.

OG Navaughn Donaldson Draft Snapshot:

2022 NFL Draft Ranking* - 53rd Offensive Tackle

(Position Ranking based on The Athletic, Dane Brugler, 2022 Draft Guide)*
Height: 6’5” (74th Percentile)
Weight: 350lbs (97th Percentile)
Arm Length: 34’ (79th Percentile)
Wingspan: 83’ (96th Percentile)
Hand: 9 1/8” (5th Percentile)

Career Statistics/Pro Football Focus (PFF) Grades:
2017: 11GP/10GS, Right Guard, 59.0 Grade (All-ACC Honorable Mention)
2018: 12GP/10GS, Right Tackle (6), Right Guard (5), 69.8 Grade
2019: 12GP/12GS, Left Guard, 70.7 Grade
2020: 2GP, 75.2 Grade (Redshirt)
2021: 11GP/11GS, Right Guard/Left Guard, 65.9 Grade, 877 Snaps
CAREER: 48GP/43GS

Pro Day Results:

40-Yard Dash: 5.68 (3rd Percentile)
Bench: 15 reps (2nd Percentile)
3-Cone: 8.44 (2nd Percentile)
Shuttle: 5.28 (2nd Percentile)
Vertical Jump: 21” (1st Percentile)
Broad Jump: 7’9” (12th Percentile)

Background:

True to the U Through it All

Donaldson has always had an alluring frame and gargantuan presence, as he was 6-5, 335lbs coming out of high school as a high four-star recruit (no. 72 in the nation). Navaughn, a product of Miami Central, opted to stay local as he committed to Miami on July 26, 2015, a year-and-a-half prior to his enrollment, despite offers from in-state rivals FSU and Florida, and out-of-state bids from UNC, Auburn, and Georgia.

The early commitment allowed Donaldson to enroll early where he aimed to work with the offensive line coaches, as well as a nutritionist. Navaughn, in his freshman year, lived up to the hype as an imposing offensive lineman. He filled in that freshman year at Right Tackle as a starter. That freshman year, Donaldson thrived as he was named an All-ACC Honorable Mention, as well as Freshman All-American according to ESPN and FWAA.

The next year, due to team needs and even though Donaldson was more comfortable at tackle, Donaldson was shifted to Right Guard, where he also started. In his third season, he moved yet again, over to Left Guard. However, toward the close of that season, Donaldson suffered a leg injury.

As a result, the injury forced Donaldson to not only miss the Walk-On Independence Bowl, but it lingered into the following spring. The injury appeared more serious than a standard ankle injury as it was announced that Navaughn required knee surgery. The Cane who had over 2,000 snaps of experience, played multiple positions, and was considered a high level prospect, was now impeded in his progress. Donaldson literally could not put weight on his leg for six months.

Donaldson did whatever he could to rehabilitate the injury and returned toward the end of the year in a rotational role. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Navaughn played 26 snaps in the final win of the season against Duke, did not allow a sack, and provided a much needed boost to the run blocking game where he earned a 75.3 PFF grade.

During his redshirt season, Donaldson took time becoming an off-the-field leader. He then worked hard to return this past season and proved his durability on the offensive line by playing 877 snaps in 2021.

Player Profile:

Willing to Do It All

Donaldson is the 66th all-time Miami recruit according to 247Sports, so the raw athleticism is there. However, the untimely injury at the end of 2019 may have derailed his progress and hopes of having his name called this weekend. That being said, Donaldson showed mental toughness in returning from that lingering injury.

The Miami native led by example as he enrolled early to focus on improving his craft, and then did whatever was necessary to help the team by playing Right Tackle, Right Guard, Left Guard, and also taking practice repetitions at Center.

The main trait that NFL teams will love is his size as he weighs in at 350 pounds. In spite of some lapses in his ability to use his frame since the injury, Donaldson has the potential to be a top notch run blocker with mauling ability. His conditioning will be a key concern and whether he can still be as effective if it is decided he would benefit from shedding weight. Navaughn had a poor Pro Day as his numbers were all in the 12th Percentile or worse. He also looked clumsy in drills. Donaldson is assignment-sound but moves slowly as a result of his size.

Strengths/Positives

  • Massive Frame could project well as Run Blocking Bulldozer (350lbs)
  • 2,940 offensive snaps (48 games played)
  • Positional Versatility: Experience at Right Guard, Left Guard, and Right Tackle
  • Mental Toughness/Adversity in fighting back from injury
  • Former top-100 recruit and Freshman All-American

Weaknesses/Negatives

  • Injury has derailed much of his progress
  • Poor Pro Day/Testing
  • Conditioning may not be up to NFL Standards

Best NFL Fits (UDFA): Teams looking for a big body who can be used as a plow in the run game

NFL Comparisons: Aaron Gibson

Bottom Line:

Projects best as a bulldozing run blocker who is brought in primarily to clear space (i.e. in the red zone). He is a developmental project as his injury concerns appear to have affected his progress. Regardless, he is a team-first lineman with immense experience and was a promising prospect. To that end, he might be able to put his NFL dreams, and trajectory, back in the right direction.

Draft Night Projection: (UDFA)

UDFA: Due to the lingering effects of the injury, it may take some time for Donaldson to get an opportunity. If he continues to work closely with coaches, trainers, and stay in the loop with NFL teams, he could get an opportunity down the road.