The Seattle Seahawks got their first real look at rookie defensive lineman Malik McDowell and were impressed, thus furthering that it’s all about mentality.
Despite having critical needs entering the 2017 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks traded back twice with their first selection. The first move back was from late in the first round to early in the second. They then traded back once more so that the Jacksonville Jaguars could move up for offensive tackle Cam Robinson. Though the Seahawks too could’ve used Robinson, they settled for a top-10 talent that slipped down the board in former Michigan State defensive lineman Malik McDowell.
In terms of size and physical tools, McDowell is near unmatched in terms of what he brings to the table. However, there was talk all throughout the draft process about his mentality. Teammates didn’t enjoy working with him, teams spoke ill of their interviews with him at the Combine, and everything seemed to point to red flags about his mentality.
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Of course, there are always things that are overblown in the draft process. So surely the Seahawks were ready to get an even closer look at their investment as rookie minicamp began. And what they saw was a massive and versatile athlete with mounds of potential.
950AM KJR Seattle Sports Radio was there for the camp on Day 1 and noted just how imposing the rookie was. They likened him to guys like Calais Campbell and DeMarcus Ware — which is damn high praise. What’s more, head coach Pete Carroll noted how proficient he was in terms of technique and the game of football in the trenches. He spoke further about that unique size and versatility that they have with McDowell, saying to 950AM KJR:
“We’ll play him a little more at defensive end,” Carroll said. “He played inside a lot. He was over the center a lot and he doesn’t look like that kind of player in our system to us. We’ll play him at five-technique and three-technique and see how that goes. Really would like to see how he works as an inside rusher in nickel and see if he can add something special for us there.”
So if you’re checking boxes at home, McDowell is a massive human being with uncommon agility and athleticism for his size. What’s more, he proved to be a technically sound player to his coaches on Day 1 of rookie camp. Furthermore, the head coach is already noticing his versatility that he can move across the entire four-man front.
Why then was this guy available still at the beginning of the first round?
In essence, all that we’re hearing out of minicamp for Seattle is confirmation that the mental part of this game is what will be critical for McDowell’s success. Physically, every box is checked and he can shine. When it comes to being a quality teammate and one of 53 men that guys want to go to war with, that remains to be seen.
Of course, the Seahawks have a quality history in regards to handling these types of players and so-called red flags and molding them for success. McDowell is a massive ball of clay to mold and one that could be the next defensive star in Seattle. Now it’s all about getting over those mental hurdles.