McDowell Forgoes Senior Season, Declares for NFL Draft

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McDowell Forgoes Senior Season, Declares for NFL Draft

Photo: Mike Carter/USA Today Sports

Photo: Mike Carter/USA Today Sports

Photo: Mike Carter/USA Today Sports

Photo: Mike Carter/USA Today Sports

Andy Chmura

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Michigan State defensive lineman and former second-team All Big Ten selection Malik McDowell has announced on Twitter this morning that he will forego his senior year and enter the 2017 NFL Draft in Philadelphia.

“Malik McDowell is an extremely gifted player who has demonstrated the ability and mindset to succeed at the next level,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said in a press release. “His pre-draft numbers project him as a likely first-round selection.”

McDowell has also hired one of the most popular agents in sports in Drew Rosenhaus. Some of Rosenhaus’ other clients include Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Brown, Frank Gore and LeSean McCoy.

In August, McDowell claimed that he would stay for his senior year unless he was a sure-fire top three pick. But this is an unlikely scenario, as an ESPN mock draft projects McDowell to be the 10th overall pick. Still, McDowell’s decision should not come as a surprise, considering that his junior year was injury-ridden with an ugly 3-9 record.

In 2014, McDowell was one of four true freshmen to letter for the Spartans. He finished the year with 15 tackles (4.5 for a loss) and 1.5 sacks. The Football Writers Association of America named him a freshman All-American, while ESPN and BTN placed him on the Big Ten All-Freshman team.

In week 11 of 2015, McDowell was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after recording eight tackles (4.5 for a loss), half a sack and a forced fumble against Maryland. He finished the season with 41 tackles, which was second among Spartan defensive linemen. 13 of his tackles were for a loss and 4.5 were sacks. He also made the All-Big Ten second team.

McDowell’s 2016 numbers are nothing overwhelming as shown by his 34 total tackles, 11 of which were in one game. He also had only 1.5 sacks. But this was largely because he took up the entire focus of offensive lines, and was exposed to a medley of double or triple teams. He also missed his last three games due to an injury.

Amid his junior year struggles, the 6-foot-6, 276-pound Detroit native racked up 90 career tackles, 34.5 of which were for a loss along with 7.5 sacks in 36 games, 23  of which he started.

McDowell also proved to be versatile. His natural position is nose tackle, but he started three times at defensive end. This was Dantonio’s method of helping McDowell beat the double team.

As the former 5-star recruit makes his way out of East Lansing and into the next chapter of his life as a professional football player, Dantonio wishes nothing more than the best for McDowell.

“We are thankful for his contributions to the program that significantly impacted our recent success, culminating with last year’s Big Ten Championship and an appearance in the College Football Playoff,” Dantonio said in the press release. “We wish him the best and are excited for the opportunity in the next chapter of his life as he pursues his dream to play in the NFL.”