MSU’s Malik McDowell dipping on NFL draft boards

Matt Charboneau, The Detroit News
Malik McDowell

Michigan State defensive lineman Malik McDowell made a quick decision to forgo his final season in college to enter the NFL draft.

The question now is where McDowell will land when the draft convenes next spring. Early indications are the 6-foot-6, 276-pounder is trending in the wrong direction after high ratings before the 2016 season began.

“I thought top five at one point,” ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said Thursday. “I don’t think that now. But I do think on talent and what you see in some games, that will be enough to get him in the middle of the first.”

Kiper currently has McDowell ranked No. 15 overall in his most recent Big Board on ESPN.com.

McDowell finished the 2016 season with 34 tackles, including seven for loss and 1.5 sacks. However, he missed the final three games with an ankle injury and was in and out of games throughout the season with various injuries.

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Those issues have raised questions, Kiper said.

“On the Big Board he had been as high as four, five -- in that area,” Kiper said. “I just didn’t see it this year and I understand that you look at it and understand there are other reasons why he’s a player on the interior that doesn’t have the production. But you look at McDowell, I think technique work needs consistency, playing with a high motor every play. All those things.

“The talent is there. You see it. When he’s all out and he’s doing the right thing technically and he gets the leverage he needs and he’s using his hands, he can really do a job for you. And you’ve got versatility with him too. You can move him around and bring him from different areas. He’s gonna have that scheme versatility a lot of defensive line coaches want, all of them want. That’s the plus.”

Fellow ESPN analyst Todd McShay has McDowell rated No. 10 overall while CBSsports.com lists McDowell at No. 11.