The Browns need a dominant 3-technique for defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ defense. Malik McDowell could be that dominant player.
He has the natural ability to be All-Pro at the 3-technique. He has the initial quickness and power that dominant 3-techniques display. He needs to combine that natural ability with sharply honed defensive line skills if he wants to be an All-Pro.
Unfortunately, it does not seem that Malik McDowell is ready to take that step. When Yahoo.com’s Eric Edholm described his winners and losers from the NFL combine, he described Malik McDowell has a loser. Here is why:
"Allow us to explain how a 6-foot-6, 295-pound prime athlete with long arms and big hands who runs a 4.85 40 is on the “losers” list. Said one team: “Worst interview we did.” Added another: “Awful interview. Awful.” What concerns scouts most is that for all his tremendous upside — watch him destroy Michigan, for instance — McDowell’s production and tape don’t always match up. Scouts feel like he takes plays off too often. And when they asked him about that, he got defensive. They also asked him about his attitude and work ethic, which were concerns. Many of those questions remain unanswered."
Attitude and work ethic will be the main issue for McDowell and the Browns. Even though Gregg Williams prides himself on reforming players with bad attitudes, do the Browns want to take a chance on a player with attitude and work ethic issues with a high draft pick while rebuilding?
At this point, it does not even sound like he is ready to handle the questions about his work ethic, much less to address the issue head on:
"“The cautionary tale is Clowney,” one team explained. “You see him now, he’s dominant; we had those same questions [for McDowell] when he came out. Does he love football? Is he going to work? With [McDowell], I can’t figure out what makes this kid tick. He might be the type who, maybe he falls [in the draft] and it lights a fire under him. I don’t know. But I need that light on more often, and he didn’t like it when we asked him about that.”"
The fact that he got upset about questions about his work ethic and attitude is not a good sign. Malik McDowell has a lot work to do to succeed in the NFL. But is he willing to put in the work?
The Browns could use a potentially dominant player like Malik McDowell to play the 1 and 3-technique position opposite Danny Shelton. But can they take a chance on a player like McDowell who has bust potential written all over him?
If what Eric Eldhom reports is true, McDowell should be available to the Browns at pick No. 33. The question is, how much do they trust Gregg Williams to reform him?
In another year . . . maybe. But drafting McDowell now is not a good idea for the Browns no matter what the upside may be.