Malik McDowell, the Browns defensive tackle who was once projected to be a top-five pick in last year’s NFL Draft before his accident and subsequent legal troubles, is finally back on the field. What has changed for him?
Malik McDowell is a defensive tackle for the Seattle Seahawks who was released from jail in December of 2018 after spending nearly a year there. He has been in the spotlight since then, but before his release he had suffered serious injuries in an ATV accident that left him with no memory for three days.
When the Seattle Seahawks picked Malik McDowell in the 2017 NFL Draft, they believed they had found a future star.
Instead, they used a second-round selection on a player who would only play a few snaps for the team.
McDowell’s NBA career seemed to be gone in the blink of an eye, despite entering the league as one of the most promising defensive talents in his class. An ATV accident ushered in a string of difficult years for the former Michigan State star. McDowell has finally turned a turnaround after battling with legal problems and suffering health hurdles that might have forced him to change careers.
And if he continues to improve, the Cleveland Browns should have a formidable defense capable of leading the club to a Super Bowl victory.
Malik McDowell’s NFL career was endangered by a horrific ATV accident and legal issues before it ever started.
McDowell was seriously injured in an ATV accident three months after the Seahawks selected him as the 35th player in the 2017 draft. That life-changing incident happened only two months after he signed a four-year, $6.95 million deal with a guaranteed $4.4 million. Due to his ailments, the Detroit native was unable to participate in training camp, but it was just the beginning of his problems in Seattle.
McDowell was arrested twice in 2017: first in September for driving under the influence of alcohol and again in December for disorderly behavior. He was released by the Seahawks with a non-football injury designation on July 26, 2018, four months after receiving a 12-month probation term.
McDowell’s legal problems didn’t end there, however.
An incident with police on Feb. 18, 2019, resulted in charges of assault, resisting arrest, and driving a vehicle while intoxicated (OVI). McDowell was also released by the Seahawks as a result of the event. The club then launched a lawsuit against him, demanding that he return $799,238 in unpaid signing bonus money.
McDowell suffered an even higher price later that year, when he was sentenced to 11 months in prison and three years of probation after pleading guilty to several criminal counts. According to ESPN, the court also ordered him to write four essays on finding purpose in life rather than committing crimes, the significance of obeying the law, the values of the Declaration of Independence and how his actions damaged them, and the value of property rights.
Despite the fact that McDowell’s future didn’t seem to be especially bright towards the end of 2019, destiny had other ideas. After spending the previous several years in the news for all the wrong reasons, the 25-year-old has totally changed the narrative by doing precisely what is expected of him in Cleveland.
For all the right reasons, the former Seahawk is now in the limelight.
Andrew Berry raised a few heads when he took a chance on McDowell in May. The second-year general manager, on the other hand, seems to be a genius for signing the former college standout to a one-year, $660,000 deal.
For a Browns team that ranks 11th in points allowed after five games, the low-risk, high-reward approach has paid off spectacularly. McDowell has started every game as defensive tackle, weighing in at 6-foot-6 and 295 pounds. Given that he didn’t have a single NFL action on his résumé before the season began, his rise has been one of the season’s most unexpected stories.
McDowell hasn’t exactly filled the stat sheet with eight tackles (two for loss), one sack, two quarterback hits, and a fumble recovery on 206 plays. Pro Football Focus, on the other hand, rates him 40th out of 116 interior defensive lineman, which is very remarkable for someone who has been out of the game for so long.
Following an outstanding effort that featured his first career sack and fumble recovery, McDowell seems to be confidence in his ability to make more big plays in the future.
He said Wednesday, “I was genuinely thinking, ‘Now they’re going to start rolling in.’” “I smelled the blood, I tasted the blood in the water, I got there, and I really made the play. I’ve gotten my feet wet now. Now I understand how it feels. It’s time to go grab it again.”
If McDowell continues to play well for Cleveland’s strong defense, he has a chance to cash in.
Malik McDowell has transformed himself from a Seahawks draft failure to a crucial starter for the Browns. | David Crane/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images
Everyone in Cleveland will be pleased as long as McDowell continues on his present course. His ability to provide pressure to opposing quarterbacks provides the club with a much-needed inside rusher capable of collapsing the pocket and confounding blocks. With Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney on his team, McDowell should get one-on-one battles on a pretty regular basis.
The Browns should be a top-eight defense if he continues to polish his trade and gain greater confidence in the position. On all three levels, they have an abundance of pure physical skill, and with young players getting important experience, the defense should improve as the season goes.
Baker Mayfield and company should be in a great position to make a strong run at a Super Bowl championship as a result of this. The Browns have the firepower on both sides of the ball to beat the AFC’s top teams, with an explosive offense that still has potential to develop. So there should be plenty of reason to be optimistic about their prospects of going all the way.
Malik McDowell, on the other hand?
His future seems to be bright as well.
After all, if his good start is any indication, the upcoming free agent should be able to persuade at least one team to sign him to a multi-year deal next spring.
That is, if the Browns don’t strike a deal first.
Pro Football Reference provided all statistics. Spotrac provided all contract information.
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Malik McDowell is a defensive tackle for the Seattle Seahawks. He came into the league as a first round pick in 2017. He was drafted by the Detroit Lions but suffered serious injuries in an ATV accident, went to jail for nearly a year, and then got sued by the Seahawks for $799,238. Reference: malik mcdowell contract.
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