Seahawks Insider Blog

Seahawks’ 1st pick of 2017 draft: “Motivated” Michigan State DT Malik McDowell

The Seahawks traded down one spot at the top of round two on Friday then selected Michigan State defensive tackle Malik McDowell at 35th overall. He said he played about 90 percent of his snaps in college as a 6-foot-6 nose tackle.
The Seahawks traded down one spot at the top of round two on Friday then selected Michigan State defensive tackle Malik McDowell at 35th overall. He said he played about 90 percent of his snaps in college as a 6-foot-6 nose tackle. AP

RENTON The Seahawks’ first pick of the 2017 NFL draft gets them younger -- and longer -- at defensive tackle.

Will Malik McDowell of Michigan State make Seattle better there?

The Seahawks made their third trade in less than 24 hours, moving from the second pick of round two down to the third pick of the second round -- and picking up Jacksonville’s sixth-round choice. Then they took McDowell. He is 6 feet 6, and weighed 299 pounds on his pre-draft visit to the Seahawks. That was up 23 pounds from his listed weight in college. He said he played “about 90 percent” of his snaps at Michigan State as a nose tackle, over the center.

That’s one tall nose tackle.

He played the other 10 percent of the time outside at end. Expect the Seahawks to explore his versatility once rookie minicamps begin here in two weeks.

“Talking to coaches, they said they liked me a lot,” McDowell said of the Seahawks’ interest before the draft. “They played it cool, really.

“I am just real excited. ... I’m just coming here to compete. Whatever works out for me.”

In fact, you could just about hear his grin through the phone Friday night from his home in Detroit, minutes after Seattle picked him.

“I’m just so happy,” the 20-year-old McDowell said. “I’m smiling from ear to ear.”

Asked to describe his game, McDowell said flatly: “Dominant player.”

He did not elaborate. He saw no need.

He had been seen by many to be a potential top-10 pick in the last couple years. He dominated games such as against Notre Dame. But he got widely criticized for not showing up for other games as his Spartans uncharacteristically lost.

“It was a tough season, a lot of downs. It was just a tough year,” he said.

“I am motivated.”

Motivation shouldn’t be an issue in the NFL, with a team with plans to compete with a championship again.

McDowell doesn’t turn 21 until June 20. He played three seasons with the Spartans, left after his junior year, and totaled 90 tackles in 36 games, with 24½ of those stops behind the line of scrimmage. He was a freshman All-America in 2014, second-team All-Big Ten in ‘15 and first-team All-Big Ten in 2016, when he played through an ankle injury in the final three games. That’s when his reputation was soaring.

The Seahawks’ net result of moving down from the 26th overall pick Thursday to 35th Friday: McDowell plus four additional draft choices for a total of 11 in this draft.

But there was a cost: whom the Seahawks passed on and missed out on while moving down, then down, then down again. They lost out on Kevin King, the 6-3 star cornerback from the neighboring University of Washington that seemingly would have fit Seattle’s defensive scheme. King went out spot above Seattle’s initial second-round place before it traded down, at 33rd overall to Green Bay.

The Seahawks didn’t get top offensive linemen Cam Robinson of Alabama, the Outland Trophy winner as college football’s best interior lineman, or Western Kentucky’s Forrest Lamp, who projects as a guard. Either could have helped what remains Seattle’s most problematic unit.

Another gut punch to fans in Western Washington: UW safety Budda Baker went to the Seahawks’ NFC West rivals, the Arizona Cardinals, one pick after Seattle selected McDowell.

Seattle has the 58th overall pick near the end of the second round, plus four picks in round three later Friday.

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