To make things more intriguing, though, Notre Dame is the third school getting major interest from McDowell. Needless to say, his recruitment is going to end up being extremely interesting.
Wherever he ends up, McDowell projects to be an elite recruit who will have a major impact on the football field and the recruiting trail. He's ranked as the No. 1 player from the state of Michigan and the No. 2 strong-side defensive end in the nation, both according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings.
Here's my complete scouting report for McDowell:
- Name: Malik McDowell
- Hometown: Detroit, Mich.
- School: Loyola High School
- Position: SDE
- Height: 6'7" (247Sports)
- Weight: 290 lbs (247Sports)
- 40-Yard Dash: 4.70 (247Sports)
- Rankings: 5-star (247Sports Composite), 4-star (247Sports), 4-star (Rivals), 4-star (Scout.com), Watch List (ESPN RecruitingNation)
The first thing you notice about McDowell is his size. He's a big defensive lineman, and he'll be able to compete and even win one-on-one battles with some of the bigger and stronger offensive linemen at the college football level. You can't teach size, so that's a huge intangible that McDowell brings to the table.
Along with his size, he displays great speed and especially explosiveness. He gets a great jump off the line of scrimmage, and he has the quickness to shoot the gap, run the lane and make a play in the backfield against either the run or pass.
He'll be strong enough to "two-gap" a blocker against the run, rip off and make the play. His strength will also allow him to maintain gap responsibility, and he even should be able to combat double teams. If he continues to progress, he will demand plenty of double teams at the college level.
McDowell's speed and strength help him out as a pass-rusher, but he also really excels at using his hands to create separation and disengage.
In the picture below you can see that McDowell is rushing the quarterback from a one, or more specifically, a 2i-technique, which means he started off on the inside shoulder of the guard:
Here's a great look at his fundamental abilities as a pass-rusher. Notice how he pushes the guard's left elbow inside, which causes the guard to turn and dip his shoulder, allowing McDowell to swim his left arm over in the second picture:
From there, he makes a strong tackle on the quarterback, which forces a fumble:
McDowell will fit right in at the college level because of his size and speed, but it's his fundamental knowledge of simple moves like this swim move that will put him over the top and allow him to play a high level.
This is almost unfair to ask of a kid who's 6'7'', but I'd like to see him play with a little bit more bend at the line of scrimmage. He's going against much smaller opponents in high school, but at the college level, he's going to need to utilize leverage, get under the blocker's shoulders and really explode into the punch.
You can see here how his helmet level is much higher than the rest of the line of scrimmage:
In this play he gets stood up by a blocker and isn't able to get much push. If he gets lower, establishes leverage and gets a strong punch, that will allow him to get the blocker on his heels and drive backward.
Where will McDowell commit?
McDowell does have the potential to be an elite defensive end at the college level, and he'll be able to play strong against both the run and the pass. He can play defensive end in either the 3-4 or 4-3 scheme, so he'd fit at either Michigan, Notre Dame or Michigan State.
He's reportedly taking a good look at Michigan, according to Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports.com, and it's hard to deny what Michigan can offer him as both a student and a football player. He'd also have more freedom to rush the passer and make tackles in Michigan's scheme.
The Wolverines are looking for a top-notch pass-rusher or two, and McDowell certainly fits the description. I like the fit at Michigan for both parties involved, so if I had to make a prediction right now, I'd give the Wolverines the nod over Notre Dame and Michigan State.
Wherever he does end up, McDowell projects to be very good.