Former Michigan State defensive lineman Malik McDowell kept his answers short and sweet at the 2017 NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
Prior to the 2016 season he told reporters, “If I’m not top three, I don’t leave (Michigan State).” When asked Saturday why he declared early for the NFL draft, he chose not to take the question as an opportunity to back out of his previous statement.
“Because I still feel that way,” he said.
“Because I’m a good player.”
Of course, the combine brings in plenty of good players. McDowell feels his versatility stands out. He played all along the defensive line in college. He’ll almost certainly stay there in the NFL, as he said he hasn’t heard about playing outside linebacker. But he came off as plenty confident in his ability.
“I feel like I can play safety if I wanted to,” said the 6-foot-6, 295-pound McDowell.
— Steve Frederick (@SportsGuyTweets) March 5, 2017
So what’s holding him back? Talent has never been an issue, but consistency is the key word. Mike Mayock and other scouts have tossed around the word.
McDowell might understand it, but he gave some contradictory comments. When asked what NFL teams have said he needs to work on, he said, “Just playing hard every down.”
But when asked for a more specific comment on what teams have said about his work ethic, he responded, “That is not a problem at all.”
Interviews don’t seem to be the strongest part of McDowell’s game. At Michigan State, the team seldom brought him out to meet with reporters.
But that may be the key to getting somewhere close to his draft aspirations. That and consistency.
“I think he’s just got to prove that he can be more consistent,” Mayock said. “He certainly flashes. … But he just has to be a more consistent person as far as his habits are concerned, his work ethic and his game plan.”