The Redskins offensive rebuild has been centered around a Michigan State product the past two years. Will their defensive rebuild follow a similar path?
So far, CSNmidatlantic.com's Ben Standig has released two mock drafts, and in both of those mock drafts, he has projected MSU defensive end Malik McDowell to be the Redskins' first round pick. Here's what he had to say in his most recent edition about the 20-year-old:
Stop us if you've heard this before, but the Redskins need defensive line help above and beyond everything else, especially with Su'a Cravens headed to safety in 2017. The 280-pound McDowell isn't a nose tackle, but the athletic presence could be a force as a 3-4 end or inside in 4-3 looks. He recorded 34 tackles -- seven for loss -- and 1.5 sacks in nine games before missing the last three games with an ankle injury.
Many NFL Draft pundits had McDowell near the top of their prospect lists before this past college football season, but due to some injury issues and concerns about his effort, he's fallen down boards slightly. In December, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. said his technique needs polishing, as does his consistency on each play.
Kiper did speak to McDowell's strengths, too, though, and it's easy to see why the Redskins would be intrigued by a player with the following description.
"The talent is there," he said. "You see it. When he’s all out and he’s doing the right thing technically and he gets the leverage he needs and he’s using his hands, he can really do a job for you. And you’ve got versatility with him too. You can move him around and bring him from different areas. He’s gonna have that scheme versatility a lot of defensive line coaches want."
Plenty of time still stands between now and the draft, and McDowell's stock could rise again or dip some more after his performances at events like the NFL Combine and his pro day. Nevertheless, for a team with glaring needs on its defensive front, it would make sense that the Redskins would target him come late April, so don't be surprised if more experts continue to link him and Washington.