Despite the New York Giants’ dominating defensive numbers last year, they would be smart to use their first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft on defense. Damon Harrison, Olivier Vernon, and Jason Pierre-Paul are all top players, but the Giants lack depth on the defensive line, and Malik McDowell could address that issue.
McDowell’s draft stock has fluctuated between the first two rounds according to mock drafts. This gives the Giants the perfect chance to land him with the 23rd overall pick. The defensive tackle from Michigan State certainly has the physical skills to be great at 6’6″ and 295 pounds. In college, McDowell notched 24.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks, which is strong for a defensive tackle.
Johnathan Hankins and Harrison made up a formidable run-stopping unit last year for New York, but they struggled at times to pressure the quarterback. It seems that the Giants will also be losing Hankins in free agency. McDowell could be an effective pass-rushing replacement.
However, McDowell’s draft stock is starting to fall out of the first round for a reason. Despite his physical abilities, his technique is a concern. Giants fans know from watching left tackle Ereck Flowers that it doesn’t matter how strong you are if your technique is weak.
The issue that might pull NY away from drafting him is that some scouts are concerned about his work ethic. The talent is there, but it seems, at times, he isn’t putting in full effort. The Giants typically prefer to draft high-character team leaders with their early picks, and McDowell may not be that guy.
All things considered, the G-Men need defensive line depth. They likely don’t have the money to re-sign Hankins. They definitely can’t afford a free agent like Dontari Poe. The Giants enter 2017 with a hole at the second defensive tackle position, and that hole needs to be filled in the draft. Malik McDowell may be the man to fill it.