1. Malik McDowell, Defensive Tackle
When the Cleveland Browns signed Malik McDowell, he seemed to be a long shot to make the team. But then, the defensive tackles ahead of him began to have their share of struggles, which opened the door.
He nudged that door open even further with an impressive performance this past weekend against the New York Giants. McDowell got a chance against the reserves for the Giants and he looked like a man among boys.
McDowell finished the game with five tackles and one sack but that doesn’t even begin to do justice for how disruptive he really was. Even on the plays where McDowell never got a hand on the ball carrier, he was pushing the pocket and simply couldn’t be blocked one-on-one.
So with that being said, he’s a lock to make the team. Right?
Well, not exactly. McDowell hadn’t played a game in 1,751 days before seeing the field against the Giants and a lot of that had to do with off-field issues. He hasn’t been causing trouble in Cleveland but there’s no way the Browns front office isn’t at least keeping that in the front of their minds.
On top of that, the defensive tackle corps is pretty crowded. Nothing is set in stone, which helps McDowell, but he has a lot of guys ahead of him to beat out.
Sunday will be his last chance to do just that and he has to prove he can be disruptive against players who won’t be looking for work a week from now.