After sliding out of the first round, Malik McDowell didn’t have to wait long in Round 2 for his name to be called when the Seattle Seahawks took him with the 35th overall pick. McDowell becomes Michigan State’s highest-drafted defensive lineman in the Mark Dantonio era. McDowell will join Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” and one of the better defensive units in all of football.
The former Spartan defensive tackle may have been the biggest mystery of any prospect heading into the 2017 NFL Draft. On paper, and talent-wise, McDowell is a first-round talent. Some even had him projected as a top-five pick.
There’s not much to debate about McDowell’s skills on the field as a Spartan, but there were some NFL executives questioning his off-the-field intangibles. Many NFL executives were concerned with his character and motor on the field, and many felt that if it weren’t for those off-field intangibles, McDowell would have heard his name within the first five picks called.
While drafting McDowell poses a bit of a risk for Pete Carroll and the Seahawks, one thing is certain: Carroll will get every bit of potential there is out of McDowell. Defensive linemen with the frame of McDowell, who stands at 6-foot-6, 295 pounds, are hard to come by, especially in this year’s draft class.
His size in college allowed him to out-muscle almost any lineman with pure strength alone, so if McDowell improves his technical skills–which, with the defense Seattle has, should not be a issue–he has the talent and the ceiling to become one of the more dominant defensive linemen in the NFL.
It’s unclear where Carroll will play McDowell on the defensive line, but he has the talent and athleticism to play either the tackle or end position. He possesses an array of pass-rushing moves, which include a solid swim move on the edge, and he is a great bull rusher.
Character issues aside, Seattle taking McDowell at No. 35 could not be a more perfect place for him. Seattle is built with veteran, experienced leaders on defense in a tough environment for a guy like McDowell to fail in. They also have a coach in Carroll who will be able to help him with his habits in practice, and Carroll will squeeze every bit of potential out of the former Spartan.