Every one on planet Earth knows what the Cowboys need to improve on this offseason. At the top of that list is defensive linemen, and with the depth at defensive end in this upcoming draft class, most don't anticipate Dallas having much trouble doing so.
There is a chance, however, the Cowboys go in a direction other than defensive end when its time to make their first round selection. If this happens, the odds are they will look at cornerback, wide receiver, or tight end.
I would like to suggest a different position, one that they improved vastly in last offseason but could still use another upgrade, however. That position is defensive tackle, and the perfect player to fill this Cowboys' need is Michigan State defensive lineman Malik McDowell.
Last offseason the Cowboys drafted Nebraska d-tackle Maliek Collins and signed former Philadelphia Eagles d-tackle Cedric Thornton. While both players, and of course Terrell McClain, had fine seasons in 2016, adding an athletic freak like McDowell into the rotation could make a big difference for the Cowboys pass rush.
In my draft work over at Slant Sports, I recently completed a scouting report on McDowell. After reviewing the tape, I came away overly impressed with McDowell's ability to get to the passer from the interior line.
“McDowell is a patient pass rusher at times, setting up the blocker how he likes and then beating them with ease. McDowell's ability to swipe hands off helps him greatly, but his quick swim is his most effective pass rush move.
On this play he uses that swim to perfection, forcing the center to power down to the right before swimming back to the other side.”
McDowell also rushed the edge at times at Michigan State, something I explored in the scouting report as well.
“Going against Mike McGlinchey, who will more than likely be the top rated tackle in the 2018 draft, McDowell does a great job of swiping hands, dipping, and ripping around the edge. Kizer steps up, however, and does his best to get away from the rush. This is where McDowell's relentlessness and motor shine through, as he refuses to be denied his opportunity for the sack.”
I have not seen McDowell mocked to the Cowboys at all, especially considering how he doesn't match Rod Marinelli's prototype defensive tackle build, but I do believe he could be a valued addition to the Cowboys defense.
Yes, they have other, more urgent needs, but adding McDowell could give the Cowboys an interior pass rush they lacked in 2016. And McDowell/Collins together on the inside for years to come? That wouldn't be fair.
The question becomes, will McDowell fall to the Cowboys at 28? I think he is a first round prospect, but with the depth on the defensive line in this draft class McDowell could fall to the end of the round.
If Malik McDowell is sitting there at 28, it would be hard for the Cowboys to pass up on him.