With their first selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks selected defensive end Malik McDowell from Michigan State University.
McDowell is the Seahawks' first draft pick after the team traded back twice in the first round on Day 1. Seattle first completed a trade with Atlanta and moved back from the No. 26 overall pick to the No. 31 pick, then completed a deal with San Francisco to move from 31 to 34. On Day 2, Seattle then moved back one spot from 34 to 35 in a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars, with the Seahawks adding a 2017 sixth-round pick in the process (No. 187 overall).
The addition of McDowell adds versatile depth (he can play defensive tackle and end) to the defensive line for the Seahawks, who have now added a defensive lineman in the second round of the draft for three consecutive offseasons (Jarran Reed being the selection in 2016, Frank Clark being the pick in 2015). Seattle has the luxury of choosing where to mostly play him, but McDowell would likely start off with the Seahawks' interior group alongside Reed and veteran Ahtyba Rubin.
McDowell said the Seahawks have not yet told him what his specific role will be, but he noted that last season he spent most of his time playing nose tackle, though he has also played end.
"I played primarily nose, probably 90 percent of my snaps, and probably like 10 percent D-end," McDowell said on a conference call with Seattle-area media. "... I'm just coming in there to compete, and whatever works out from there, that's what it is."
Asked to describe himself as a player, McDowell's answer was short but emphatic: "A dominant player."
While a member of the Spartans, McDowell was named a 2016 second-team All-American and a 2016 first-team All-Big-10 player. In 2016, his junior and final season in East Lansing, McDowell in nine games led the Spartans defensive line with 34 tackles, including seven for a loss. In 36 career games, McDowell collected 90 tackles, including 24.5 for a loss and 7.5 sacks.
Despite his Detroit roots, McDowell will arrive in Seattle familiar with a few of his defensive line teammates. McDowell, who grew up a Lions fan, watched Cliff Avril when the defensive end spent his first five seasons in Detroit. McDowell also knows Clark, who he played against in college, and has watched Michael Bennett's game from afar.
And now McDowell is excited to join those players and try to start showing he can be that "dominant player" in the NFL.
"It's the craziest call I've gotten, ever," he said. "I'm down here (in Detroit) with the family, we're all happy... The smile on my face, I'm smiling from ear to ear."
Photos of the Seahawks' first draft selection of 2017, defensive lineman Malik McDowell.