Malik McDowell might not have been one of the more heralded names in the 2017 NFL Draft process, but his name could be gaining some major buzz in the near future. Selected by the Seattle Seahawks with the 35th pick, McDowell could do some serious damage alongside Michael Bennett in the near future.
Playing both inside and outside, McDowell totaled 90 tackles (24.5 for loss), 7.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, an interception, and a defensive touchdown in his three years at Michigan State. Still, to some, it still served as a disappointment, as if the former top-50 high school recruit was capable of much more. Nonetheless, as the Spartans struggled in 2016, McDowell didn’t, serving as a bright spot in a season fans would otherwise want to forget.
Why did the Seahawks pick McDowell?
McDowell’s collegiate career left teams with questions about the player they’d potentially be selecting, but his elite ability has been clear all along. Drafting McDowell poses a risk, but it comes with an incredibly high reward should things go right. The lineman has unteachable traits and only reached a fraction of his potential during college.
Size and athleticism
Players with McDowell’s combination of frame, strength, and explosiveness are rare. The 6’6 lineman is one of the longer players in this year’s draft, with arms that measure nearly 35 inches and hands that measure 10.5 inches.
McDowell’s size directly translates to his game. The former Spartan is strong enough to out-muscle opposing linemen with pure strength, so should he improve as a technician, McDowell could become dominant in the NFL and make plays like the one below on a frequent basis:
Versatility and diversity
McDowell has the talent to make an impact either at tackle or end. He also adds a variety of pass-rushing moves, including a great bull rush and solid swim move. Not many players can do this, but McDowell appears to be a solid candidate to play a “tweener” role, if need be.
Are there any concerns with McDowell?
There are character concerns. Per CBS Sports, McDowell gave what one NFL team said was the “worst interview [they] did,” with another team calling his interview “awful.” Some scouts told were concerned about McDowell’s work ethic and what it would take to light the proverbial fire under the defensive lineman.
In addition, much of the defensive lineman’s projected upside has to do with the fact that even at his best in college, the former Spartan was a bit unconventional.
Technique was a major problem for McDowell, and though he managed to win a ton of battles, he could’ve been even better had he worked on his footwork and hand placement.