Malik McDowell and Michigan State Spartans may have had a down year in 2016, but the two-time All-Big Ten defensive tackle has the physical tools and the skillset to be a force on any NFL defensive line.
At 6 feet 6 inches and 295 pounds, McDowell has the reach to be able to make first contact against opposing offensive linemen. He has the ability to both overpower players with his strength and get by them with quickness, and his strong enough to keep playing through contact and collapse the pocket.
McDowell has a highly effective club-and-swim move and quick hands that allow him to be in opposing backfields within seconds. Great balance and agility allows him to pursue quarterbacks, and he has experience playing up and down the defensive line from his time in East Lansing.
His footwork and technique need to be refined, and plays with a high center of gravity. Perhaps even more concerning is that scouts worry about his work ethic and leadership abilities, worrying that he’s lazy and not self-motivated.
Overall, he has characteristics similar to DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead, but may not equal them in character and certainly not in production. McDowell is raw but could get to All-Pro status if he grows into his big frame and gets coached up quite a bit.
He appears to be a third or fourth-round selection at the moment, and even though the Giants are pretty much set on the defensive line, they might take a chance on McDowell in one of these later rounds.