Name: Malik McDowell
School: Michigan State
Position fit: Edge defender who can also play on the defensive interior if needed
Stats to know: 30 total QB pressures on only 206 pass-rush snaps in 2016
What he does best:
- Plays with very good range and can really cover ground to either side of him quickly.
- 24 run stops in 2016 and three straight years with strong run-defense grades.
- Uses his length effectively outside by long-arming the OT and keeping his outside shoulder free.
- Wins in a variety of ways. Beat offensive tackles both inside and outside often when lined up on the edge.
- Offers positional versatility as he played both DT and DE for Michigan State.
- Wins inside with lateral agility and is effective on stunts.
- Stays after his pass-rush even if his initial move gets shut down.
- Most effective with his long-arm stab and club-rip moves.
- Showed the ability to win on the edge against top offensive tackles, including Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk and Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey.
- Doesn’t hold up well to double teams inside
- Doesn’t play with a low enough pad level to win inside consistently in the NFL
- First motion out of his stance is often to stand straight up
- Doesn’t shed blockers consistently when lined up inside at defensive tackle
- Doesn’t locate the ball as well when he is inside as when he is outside
Player comparison: Michael Johnson, Cincinnati Bengals
Like Johnson, McDowell uses his length to win well. While he will hope to be a better pro pass rusher than Johnson, who was inconsistent in that role, there is a definite similarity in their playing styles and how they win.
Bottom line: McDowell played both inside at defensive tackle and outside at defensive end for the Spartans. McDowell’s frame and playing style are better suited to him playing an edge defender role at the NFL level. When he is lined up inside at defensive tackle he wins with quickness or by stunting into another gap but McDowell’s length and agility are better served out on the edge. He can also use more of his pass-rush moves when lined up outside including his most consistent long-arm stab pass-rush move and his counters off it. McDowell’s three years of production and positional versatility will intrigue a lot of teams.