Reportedly, both meetings took place today:
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 17, 2017
Connecticut safety Obi Melifonwu (6-4, 224, 4.40) on top 30 visit today with Seahawks, per a source. Steady interest, meetings with them
— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) April 17, 2017
Let’s start with McDowell. He started the 2016 season being touted as a potential top-10 pick. Physically, he certainly had that potential. McDowell is deceptively quick for his size (6-6, 295lbs) with the ability to take over a game when he’s on form.
A 4.85 forty and a superb 4.53 short shuttle are indicative of his quickness.
That’s the good bit out of the way.
Now onto the bad.
McDowell appeared to mail in the 2016 season as soon as it started to go south for Michigan State. He slouched through games. One play against rival Michigan stands out, with McDowell blatantly moping around and watching the running back push the pile into the end zone for a touchdown. Did he go to help? Did he get involved? No. But he did throw his arms up in frustration once the score was confirmed.
He finished the season with 1.5 sacks and only seven TFL’s. For a player with his talent, this was a complete waste of a year.
So was it just a rough few months? Was he saving himself?
Well maybe — but his interviews are among the worst you’ll see. If this is his personality off the field, it totally justifies how he acted on it:
His body language is atrocious. I remember watching this interview during the season and immediately thought, this guy isn’t a Seahawk.
It seems like it isn’t just a lack of enthusiasm for the media either. Eric Edholm reported the following about how teams viewed McDowell’s interviews at the combine:
“Worst interview we did,” said one team. Added another: “Awful interview. Awful.”
“Does he love football? Is he going to work? I can’t figure out what makes this kid tick. He might be the type who, maybe he falls 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. McDowell might never fully show his full skill, but passing on him also means you’re missing out on a potentially rare talent.”
We can go through all the Pete Carroll ‘master motivator’ spiel as much as we want. Do you really imagine the Seahawks spending a first round pick on a player of this character?
I suspect they were bringing him in to prod him and poke him and hopefully the fire lights up. Yet everything about him — effort, demeanour, body language — it’s not good.
Always compete? He might need a Mike Zimmer style coach to drag him kicking and screaming into a successful career.
He’s not a complete lost cause. It’d be nice to see/hear more of this:
His pass rush repertoire also needs padding. He basically has one move when attacking the edge, a club/swipe. He’s mastered it and has success with it — but it’s also quite predictable and pro-offensive tackles will see it coming a mile off.
The Seahawks have had visits like this in the past. A year ago they met with another player with suspect motivation — Mississippi State’s Chris Jones. They didn’t draft him though. And let’s be real here, Chris Jones is Russell Wilson at his most enthusiastic compared to McDowell’s MSU media day appearance.
There’s room for another inside/out rusher on this roster but drafting McDowell seems like a risk for a team that not only passed on Jones a year ago but also Robert Nkemdiche. I didn’t include McDowell in my top-40 yesterday because I think he’s the perfect example of a player you let someone else draft. If he becomes a success, good for them.
We’ll see if the Seahawks see something in him. He’ll probably need to have been at his most impressive during this meeting today.
If they do ultimately draft him, they’ll believe in the size and quickness — they’ll think he’s possibly worth the risk because his talent is extreme. If they did select him you’d give them the benefit of the doubt because of his extreme ceiling. D-liners don’t have to be press conference stars but they do need to be ready to go to war every week. We saw Nkemdiche in Arizona in 2016 with his great physical profile basically be a total non-factor as a rookie. The fear has to be that McDowell could be similar.
That said — there aren’t many players with the ability to anchor and bull rush inside combined with the quickness to play the edge and get to the QB. He could be really good. Can you trust him to be great though? And if he falls to #26 with this physical profile, isn’t that in itself a warning sign?
It might be that they’re willing to trade down, possibly into early round two, and that could be the type of range where they feel comfortable taking a chance on McDowell.
Melifonwu on the other hand is a different case. He’s a sensational athlete and very personable and motivated. Is he a competitor? Well look back at the way he reacted with major disappointment at ‘only’ jumping a 44 inch vertical at the combine (he wanted to break the record).
The Seahawks have spent a lot of time with Melfionwu during this pre-draft process. A lot of people ask whether he’s gritty enough. I think it’s a little bit unfair. If you’re expecting crunching hits every week, well not even Kam Chancellor does that. While he isn’t Kam (who is?) he’s not exactly a shrinking violet either. He’s a sure tackler, he closes on the ball rapidly and he has the short area quickness to be a real threat as a big nickel or corner.
He could easily be their pick. He might not be their #1 choice or preferred target. But he might be the best option at #26 if they don’t move up or down.
For more on Melifonwu, click here.