Seahawks believe in MSU’s Malik McDowell

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

The two Michigan State players taken in the NFL Draft are expected to make impacts with their respective teams.

The one that could do so immediately is defensive tackle Malik McDowell. The 6-foot-6 Detroit native who left Michigan State after his junior season was taken No. 35 by Seattle, and that move had some analysts raving.

“I thought they killed it,” ESPN’s Todd McShay said in a conference call. “To me, that was one of the value moves of the entire draft. Especially when you consider the history of (coach) Pete Carroll and (general manager) John Schneider and how many players they have found in the later rounds, knowing that that is a skill of theirs.’’

The Seahawks did their share of wheeling and dealing, adding extra picks and landing McDowell, a player many believed to have first-round talent.

Because of a poor set of interviews at the NFL Combine and questions about his work ethic and how it waned during Michigan State’s 3-9 season in 2016, his stock dropped dramatically.

'Motivated' Malik McDowell lands with Seahawks

But that’s the type of player the Seahawks have done well with.

“He was really the guy we were hoping to get,” Carroll said. “He’s got a lot of flexibility, he has played all across the board. He has been a defensive end, he has been a nose tackle, he has been a 3-technique, which bodes well for us. We see a lot of flexibility in him. He’s a unique player, he’s a very young man, 20 years old, that’s got a lot of growing, and we think he’s got a great upside.

“We’re really happy to get him.

Added Schneider: “He’s too unique. We’ve been looking for a pass-rushing 3-technique since we’ve been here together. … Just long, gets off the ball, can get skinny, use his hand, covers a lot of ground.”

For safety Montae Nicholson, there is opportunity, as well.

The 6-2, 212-pounder who also left after his junior season, was taken in the fourth round by Washington at No. 123 overall and could find himself competing for playing time early.

“Montae was sitting there and it was kind of a position of need, but also he was one of our top-rated safeties and we decided to take him,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “He’s got an injury, but we feel like he’ll be ready for camp. He’s a big kid that can really run. I think he ran a 4.4 at the Combine, and worst case he’s going to help out our special teams and that’s important. That’s one of the big three phases so that’s a good add for us.”

Nicholson, who was honorable mention All-Big Ten last season, is recovering from surgery for a torn labrum but is expected to be ready for training camp.

In interviews with Washington media, Nicholson described his style of play.

“Physical player, you know what I mean?” he said. “I like to run and hit people. I’m pretty fast, I’ve got good range. … Once I get down there I’m going to dive right into the playbook as soon as possible. Learn all the plays.”

While Michigan State had its fewest players selected since just one in 2014, it had a handful of players agree to free-agent deals soon after the draft ended.

While Michigan State had its fewest players selected since just one was taken in 2014 – cornerback Darqueze Dennard in the first round – it had a handful of players agree to free-agent deals soon after the draft was completed.

Linebacker Riley Bullough, who had an outside chance at getting drafted, announced on Twitter he was signing with Tampa Bay while tight end Josiah Price said he was heading to Minnesota. Not long after that, wide receiver R.J. Shelton posted he was also signing with the Vikings.

Later on Saturday, wide receiver Monty Madaris said he was headed to Cincinnati while safety Demetrious Cox was joining him with the Bengals. Offensive lineman Kodi Kieler posted he was heading to minicamp with Arizona.

Adding to that list were QB Tyler O’Connor, who said he was heading to Cincinnati along with defensive tackle Kevin Williams, who also said on Twitter he was joining the Bengals. Cornerback Darian Hicks indicated he was going to Chicago and offensive/defensive lineman Brandon Clemons was headed to Arizona.