Malik McDowell proved to be a costly, not bad, pick for Seahawks

Apr 17, 2018, 8:50 AM
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DT Malik McDowell was a highly-touted prospect coming out of Michigan State last year. (AP)

The accident was unfortunate and it was avoidable.

A mistake that ultimately cost the Seattle Seahawks two different second-round draft picks and changed Malik McDowell’s career if not his entire life.

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But as we sift through the conclusion of a draft pick that has gone about as poorly as possible for both the player and the team, it’s important to point out that the unfortunate, maybe even tragic, outcome was not something the Seahawks should have or even could have foreseen when they drafted McDowell last year.

There was no history of risky vehicular decisions that was part of McDowell’s draft resume. No sign that McDowell was prone to taking unnecessary risks. Well, not unless you consider his choice of football as a profession.

And while it’s tempting to link all the questions that accompanied McDowell’s selection in the second round with the ultimately disastrous result, it’s not really fair nor is it at all accurate.

McDowell was seen as a risky choice because of his effort on the field, not his decisions off of it. He had been considered a potential top-10 pick after his sophomore season at Michigan State, but there he was, still available in the second round last year because of questions about his consistency and his motivation. People wondered about his motor, to use the draft-speak that becomes its own language this time of year.

And if it had been McDowell’s work ethic that had been the undoing of his time in Seattle, you could blame the Seahawks for overlooking what turned out to be a fatal flaw.

It wasn’t though. It was an accident.

We still don’t know exactly what happened. The Seahawks said only that it was a vehicular accident though subsequent reports mentioned an all-terrain vehicle. The nature of the head injuries was never specified other than coach Pete Carroll saying McDowell had suffered a concussion.

What we do know is that the Seahawks are expected to release McDowell this week, according to a report from the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. McDowell has not been cleared to begin practicing with Seattle in the eight months since the injury. Apparently, he’s hoping another team will clear him so he can resume his career meanwhile there’s a question of just how much of the $2 million signing bonus he received last year he’ll get to keep given the fact that he never played a down for the Seahawks.

Seattle now closes the book on a disastrous 10 months in which it used one second-round pick on McDowell before trading another second-round pick along with receiver Jermaine Kearse to acquire his replacement Sheldon Richardson, who managed one sack in his one season with Seattle. In terms of assets, this was an absolute killer for a team that is trying to retool itself after missing the playoffs for the first time in six years.

And if you start at that result and work your way backward, you can talk yourself into the idea that the Seahawks could have something like this coming. Maybe not this bad. But something given all the questions that accompanied his selection.

That’s not just the benefit of hindsight, though. It’s a delusion, demanding virtual clairvoyance from Seattle as if the Seahawks were expected to hear those concerns about McDowell’s effort level and immediately start wondering what that would mean for his choice of transportation.

Every acquisition in the NFL involves a degree of risk. You must project how a college player will perform professionally against bigger, faster opponents. You have to imagine how he will respond to having a whole lot more money with a lot less supervision. You have to wonder how he will get along with his new teammates.

It’s inexact to say the least. Linebacker Aaron Curry was considered the safest selection in the 2009 draft, and he became one of the biggest busts in Seahawks’ history. In other cases, a gamble backfires. Percy Harvin came to Seattle with a well-known reputation for being difficult to manage. Well, he wasn’t just difficult in Seattle. He was impossible.

It’s not necessarily a crap shoot. Insight and expertise help make educated predictions, but there’s still so much uncertainty. Much of it coming from the decisions that men in their 20s will make on the spur of the moment.

Sometimes, those decision have results that are downright disastrous. That doesn’t mean the Seahawks should have seen it coming, though.

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Malik McDowell proved to be a costly, not bad, pick for Seahawks