In 2016, McDowell totaled 34 tackles with seven for a loss and 1.5 sacks; however, he was very disruptive and put a lot of heat on the quarterback. An ankle injury cost him multiple games late in the season, and McDowell decided to skip his senior year to enter the 2017 NFL Draft. McDowell's final games weren't as impressive, and he seemed to take his foot off the pedal.
Sources have said that McDowell has a high first-round skill set, but concerns about his motor and work ethic could cause him to slide in the 2017 NFL Draft. Team sources say that McDowell is a perfect fit as a 3-4 defensive end in the NFL. They think he has more athletic upside than DeForest Buckner or Arik Armstead, top-16 picks by the 49ers in 2015 and 2016, but the football character concerns are hurting McDowell significantly, so he could slip to the second round.
In speaking with teammates of McDowell, they say he is generally a good guy and a hard worker. He is tough to block in practice and is a smart defender; however, some players didn't like him because he tried to embarrass them in practice. McDowell didn't interview well at the combine.
McDowell was a backup in 2014 who enjoyed a breakout season in 2015. At times last season, he was the Spartans' most disruptive defensive lineman. McDowell totaled 41 tackles with 13 for a loss, 4.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and a pick-six on the year. He has a lot of upside to develop.
McDowell is at his best when uses his quickness to get upfield. With his speed, he can fire his gap and achieve penetration into the backfield. After getting by guards, McDowell has a nice ability to close. With his height, he can be a little stiff and isn't great at bending to redirect, but that is typical with players of his stature.
There are a few things that McDowell could improve in 2016. He definitely could stand to get better at using his hands to shed blocks. Doing more to get off blocks is definitely necessary for him to have success against NFL offensive linemen. McDowell could use more pass-rushing moves as he is too reliant on speed or a bull rush.
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