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PFF still high on Malik McDowell

The advanced analytics service still has McDowell rated as a first-round prospect.

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NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

With the NFL Draft opening tonight, it remains a mystery as to which round Malik McDowell will hear his name called.

Most of the mock drafts have McDowell falling into the early part of Round 2, but some still think he’s worthy of a first-round selection. Among them are the guys at Pro Football Focus, who have McDowell ranked 21st overall on their final big board:

21. Malik McDowell, Defensive Interior, Michigan State

McDowell is somewhat polarizing as a prospect. In conjunction with having to address some off-field concerns, McDowell does not always appear ideally suited to a position on the interior. His desire to mix it up with multiple blockers against power running schemes appears minimal at best; his skill-set is pure finesse. Players with McDowell’s athleticism, however—capable of shutting down plays deep into the backfield—are always in high demand. Additionally, he possesses the kind of refinement essential to succeeding in the NFL, displaying excellent hand placement and a fully-stocked pass-rush repertoire. McDowell’s capacity for collapsing the pocket will likely see him selected on Day 1. — John Breitenbach, @PFF_John

PFF analyst Cris Collinsworth is especially high on McDowell, who he has going 18th overall to the Titans in his final mock draft:

8. Tennessee Titans - Malik McDowell, DI, Michigan State

The Titans got their receiver with their No. 5 pick, and now look for a pass-rusher or cornerback. I am going to my secret weapon on this pick: Malik McDowell. McDowell is 6-foot-6 and weighs almost 300 pounds. He played only 425 snaps last season due to an ankle injury, but was dominant in those snaps according to Pro Football Focus’ data. McDowell has a very unusual sprinter’s stance, but plays outside, 3-tech, and nose tackle. With his stance, he will occasionally get washed down, but will get coached on that, and likely only improve. NFL teams will not be able to resist the perfect body type for a defensive lineman.

PFF Draft Pass Stat: Picked up 30 total QB pressures on only 206 rushes in 2016.

If that were to happen, McDowell would get to team up with former Spartan Jack Conklin in Tennessee. Who doesn’t want to see that?

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