When it comes to college players taking the early cannonball leap into the NFL draft pool, there will be at least a couple of surprises and/or headscratchers. This one would be neither.
In a statement on his personal Twitter account as well as a press release through Michigan State, Malik McDowell confirmed that he will be foregoing his senior season in East Lansing in order to enter the 2017 NFL draft. While describing it as “very difficult,” it’s been a decision that has been expected.
— 4️⃣ (@MSU_LEEK4) December 6, 2016
Despite missing the last three games this season with an injury, McDowell led all Spartans in tackles for loss with seven. The 6-6, 275-pound defensive lineman was named first-team All-Big Ten by The Associated Press and earned second-team honors from the league’s coaches and media.
In 36 career games (23 starts), McDowell has been credited with 24.5 for losses and 7.5 sacks.
He’s currently projected as a likely first-round pick in the draft. Back in August, McDowell stated he wouldn’t leave early if he wasn’t projected as a top three selection.
“Malik McDowell is an extremely gifted player who has demonstrated the ability and mindset to succeed at the next level,” said MSU head coach Mark Dantonio in a statement. “His pre-draft numbers project him as a likely first-round selection. We are thankful for his contributions to the program that significantly impacted our recent success, culminating with last year’s Big Ten Championship and an appearance in the College Football Playoff. We wish him the best and are excited for the opportunity in the next chapter of his life as he pursues his dream to play in the NFL.”