The most talented defensive lineman in the 2017 NFL Draft not named Myles Garrett is a guy that could easily be available with the Dallas Cowboys' 28th overall pick, and he was the team's most recent pre-draft 30 visit.
For a Cowboys team that has had one of the most pressing needs for pass rushers over the past seasons, you likely haven't seen this player mocked to America's Team at all this draft season.
Michigan State's Malik McDowell was a force of nature for the Spartans – when he wanted to be. Questions about how much he actually loves the game that he is dominant at have hurt his stock in this draft process, as the lack of effort does show on his 2016 tape at times with a 3-9 Michigan State team.
More of the hand swat. Effort was great here. pic.twitter.com/tZwuBU1y30
At the NFL Scouting Combine, McDowell didn't do anything to jump off the page from other defensive linemen, but NFL-readiness and positional flexibility are anything but issues with his game.
In our Staff Writer Kevin Brady's full report on Malik McDowell at Slant Sports, he writes:
At 6’6″ 280 pounds, McDowell is a stout defender against the run, using his strength to overpower offensive linemen. He also has quick, active hands, and a great get-off which help him to win right from the snap.
McDowell is truly a perfect fit for Rod Marinelli's defense, and when considering the fact he is also known for being a great motivator for developing talent at his position, Malik truly could become the biggest steal of this entire draft.
McDowell's most consistent position is at 3T DT, where the Cowboys are pretty set with young star Maliek Collins, veteran Tyrone Crawford who projects to kick back inside, and even David Irving who flashes at the position.
I wonder if the McDowell's effort questions came because he just got worn down as the season went along. Doubled teamed so often. pic.twitter.com/E4iRWyahP0
McDowell would instantly become the most exciting player on the Cowboys' defensive front when it comes to projecting the future. There would be no more halfheartedly expecting a breakout year from DeMarcus Lawrence or Cedric Thornton or Benson Mayowa. McDowell's potential to be a day- one starter at three positions while developing into a franchise player could be far too much for this team to pass on with the 28th overall pick – where any defensive line talent is often hard to find.
McDowell is a patient pass rusher at times, setting up the blocker how he likes and then beating them with ease.
This is another quote from Kevin Brady's Malik McDowell scouting report, and it only further adds to the case for McDowell to be Dallas' first round pick. Jerry Jones has already warned Cowboys Nation that this cannot be a draft headlined by “red shirt” players – but by this he means the Jaylon Smith's of the world, or injured players that can't contribute to a depleted defense in 2017.
This is a 300 lbs DL. But hey, his effort is bad. I dunno. pic.twitter.com/oTguyW9QrP
McDowell can make a massive impact to the entire Cowboys' defense in 2017 and beyond, and as one of their last pre-draft visits who will be fresh in the heads of the Dallas brass in that war room come April 27th.
We are just nine days away from this 2017 NFL Draft, and somebody is going to come away with a steal in Malik McDowell should they tap fully into his potential. Why not Rod Marinelli and the Dallas Cowboys at 28th overall?