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Malik McDowell - "First Look"

April 15, 2017
We continue our "First Look" series at some of the other prospects that have visited Redskins Park over the last week or so, as the NFL Draft draws closer.

If you missed our "First Look" at Stanford's Christian McCaffrey, Florida State's Dalvin Cook and UCONN's Obi Melifonwu - please click on the links. 

Today, we examine Michigan States' Malik McDowell who is a versatile defensive lineman who can play all over the line and is the type of athlete and frame that you are ideally looking for.

He’s 6’6” and about 295 pounds with nearly 35 inch arms and a 10.5” hand measurement.  His 40 time was a 4.85.

McDowell is a junior eligible player that played for three years in East Lansing after appearing in 36 games and starting 23.

Per and their 2017 ITP Draft Guide, he had 24.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks in three years for Michigan State.

I have more work to do on my own, but I watched one-half of his cut-ups against Wisconsin and I walked away moderately impressed against a good offensive line for the Badgers.

**McDowell was used as part of a three- down alignment and ran a stunt from a wide right alignment on the first third-down of the game. He looped inside the left tackle and steamed towards the quarterback for a big hit just as the Wisconsin QB released the ball for a big completion in stride.

**I noted that McDowell played multiple fronts and alignments. He was over the center at times and shaded the center in the A-gap.

**McDowell appeared to get good leverage at times, but failed to have a noticeable impact on a long touchdown drive by Wisconsin, with several run right at or in the general direction of McDowell.

**Malik did put pressure and have a hurry near the end of the first half, which helped to force an interception

**McDowell created a triple team bunch blocking alignment that set up a stunt loop pass rush around him for big hit, pressure and near interception as well.  

He made an impact on a couple of plays and then he seemed to be coasting or neutralized the rest of the way. That happens but it seems to happen too often with McDowell according to draft experts.

Per Inside the Pylon, McDowell enters the NFL Draft “amid questions of his coachability and work ethic. [McDowell] admitted he freelanced out of Michigan State’s scheme and failed to follow coaching instructions.”

Per (PFF) “Draft Pass” – McDowell is the fifth best interior defensive lineman in terms of their “pass rush productivity” (PRP) signature stat.

He has a PRP of 11.7, behind Ryan Glasgow of Michigan, Ashburn, Virginia product Jonathan Allen, Vincent Taylor of Oklahoma State and Jake Replogle of Purdue.

PFF defines their PRP signature stat as this: a score that is calculated “to reflect the frequency of pressure generated by a defender,” while factoring in all sacks, hits and hurries (sacks weighted heavier).

Josh Liskiewitz of PFF did not love McDowell enough overall because of his inconsistency and other issues. He told me on 106.7 The FAN Wednesday night that he would not take McDowell in the first round.

Liskiewitz did not budge on this and did not mock draft McDowell in the first round earlier this week.

However, his PFF colleague and Senior Analyst, Steve Palazzolo who appears on NBCSN on a regular basis, has McDowell going one pick after the Redskins at number 18 to the Titans.

Palazzolo noted that “McDowell adds an important piece as he’s capable of lining up inside while dabbling on the edge. He can be a disruptive run defender, but he also ranked 12 th among interior defensive linemen (per PFF and different thant PRP) with an 85.7 pass-rush grade.”

Tony Pauline of was a guest of mine on the radio Friday night and he has McDowell ranked as his second-best defensive tackle in the draft behind Chris Wormley of Michigan.

Pauline notes that McDowell is a “explosive college defensive lineman coming off a disappointing junior campaign. Displays outstanding first-step quickness and explosiveness and moves well in all directions of the field.”

Do the Redskins need McDowell? Yes. Can he be coached and motivated? I hope so and you always want to believe that is the case.

Could it be a situation like Preston Smith who has talent but an inconsistent motor and coaches need to constantly ride him? Yes.

Would I take McDowell at number 17 overall considering that I let Chris Baker go for allegedly not always working hard and I already have Smith to kick in the butt?

No I would not. 

Chris Russell has covered the Washington Redskins for eight seasons for multiple media outlets and was a part of the Redskins Radio Network broadcast team for five years. He covers the Redskins for Monumental Sports Network ( & Warpath Magazine. Listen to Chris on Washington D.C.'s # 1 sports radio station, 106.7 The FAN