The Seahawks picked Michigan State defensive lineman Malik McDowell with their first pick in the 2017 draft, at No. 35 overall.
The Seahawks finally made a pick in the 2017 draft Friday afternoon and went defense, taking lineman Malik McDowell of Michigan State with the 35th overall pick in the second round.
While the 6-6-1/4, 299-pounder played mostly nose tackle in college, he is regarded as being able to play both inside and outside and add an interior pass rush the team has felt it has lacked the last few seasons.
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) April 29, 2017
Round 2 | Pick 2 | No. 35 overallDT Malik McDowell, Michigan State
Round 2 | Pick 26 | No. 58 overallOL Ethan Pocic, LSU
Round 3 | Pick 26 | No. 90 overallCB Shaquill Griffin, UCF
Round 3 | Pick 31 | No. 95 overallS Delano Hill, Michigan
Round 3 | Pick 38 | No. 102 overallDT Nazair Jones, North Carolina
Round 3 | Pick 42 | No. 106 overallWR Amara Darboh, Michigan
Round 4 | Pick 4 | No. 111 overallS Tedric Thompson, Colorado
Round 6 | Pick 3 | No. 187 overallDB Mike Tyson, Cincinnati
Round 6 | Pick 26 | No. 210 overallOT Justin Senior, Mississippi State
Round 7 | Pick 8 | No. 226 overallWR David Moore, East Central Oklahoma
Round 7 | Pick 31 | No 249 overallRB Chris Carson, Oklahoma State
McDowell had a pre-draft visit to the Seahawks a few weeks ago, a visit that may have helped assuage what have been considered as some concerns about his consistency on the field, one reason it was thought he fell to the second round despite a lot of thought he had first-round ability.
Asked about the questions about his consistency, McDowell said simply “I’m motivated. Just ready to come down there, play for the 12th man.”
The pick came after the Seahawks traded down with Jacksonville, moving down one spot to to acquire an extra pick in the sixth round, number 187.
That means the Seahawks will have 11 picks in the draft — six on Friday in the second and third rounds and five on Saturday in rounds four through seven.
And it means the Seahawks moved down nine spots to acquire four additional picks in the draft after entering the draft with just seven picks, which would have been the team’s fewest since Pete Carroll and John Schneider took over in 2010.
The Seahawks were thought interested in adding some young depth to the defensive line, where three of its projected starters for 2017 are 30 or over — Bennett, Cliff Avril and tackle Athyba Rubin. Both Avril and Rubin have contracts that run through 2018 but also have high salary cap numbers in 2018 that could force the team to make decisions on their future following the 2017 season.
Seattle had also added little to the interior of its defensive line in the off-season, further heightening the need to add through the draft.
McDowell had also been called by some as among the best interior pass rushers available, another area of particular need for the Seahawks.
“If I don’t say that we need more pass rush after every year then I’m screwed up,” Carroll said after the end of the 2016 season. “You’ve probably heard that every season.”
The Seahawks got just 2.5 sacks from players listed as defensive tackles in 2016 — Jarran Reed, a second-round pick last season, with 1.5 and Rubin with one — and Seattle has been searching the last few years to replicate the interior rush it got in 2013 when the team won the Super Bowl.
Besides Reed and Rubin, the Seahawks have little proven depth at tackle. Quinton Jefferson, a fifth-round pick last season, missed most of last year. Other tackles on the roster are Garrison Smith, Shaneil Jenkins and Rodney Coe.
Seattle got most of its pass rush last season from its trio of ends — Avril, Bennett and Frank Clark. While Bennett and Clark often also line up inside, McDowell outweighs each by about 25 pounds.
McDowell was in Detroit with his family when the call came and said “I’m just really excited to be here. I don’t really know what else to say.”
McDowell is just 20 years old, born on June 20, 1996. He spent just three years at Michigan State before declaring early for the NFL draft.
His junior season in 2016, McDowell said, “was a rough season” due in part to a couple of injuries.
He played in just nine games after hurting his ribs and then suffering an ankle injury late in the year that knocked him out for the rest of the season and finished with just 1.5 sacks on the year. He had 7.5 in his career including 4.5 in 2015. He was named as an All-Big Ten pick each of the last two years.
Here’s the NFL.com scouting report on McDowell: “Has similar physical traits and abilities of Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner, but may not share their football character. McDowell lacked production along the interior and could benefit from a move to a defensive end spot in a 4-3 or 3-4 front. McDowell is raw, but when he flashes, it can be blinding. McDowell is an explosive, ascending prospect with All-Pro potential if he grows into his body and takes the necessary coaching.”