Rivals: Four-star, #2 SDE
Scout: Four-star, #5 SDE
247: Four-star, #2 SDE
McDowell is one of the most dominant defensive lineman to come out of Michigan in years. Standing at 6'6", 290 pounds, Malik is far too much for any high school offensive lineman to handle. Every scout who reports after watching him play in person ends up writing something to the tune of "It isn't fair for him to play at this level." This is far from unusual for a future BCS starter, but McDowell seems to shine like a future pro would.
Physically, he has the frame to play both the five-tech and the three-tech. Two years ago he looked like a strong side defensive end who could bulk up and move inside; today he looks like a three-tech who could clean up his frame and move outside to the five-tech. He's a true 6'6" with arm length to spare, so moving inside could prove difficult. I think McDowell will be at his best at the five-tech position, but he might be too big at this point.
How could someone so big be considered an elite recruit at two positions? Malik has an extremely rare combination of size and explosiveness, making him look more like a defensive end from Louisiana or Alabama, where massive athletes seem to pop up on a daily basis. His explosiveness is great but not elite, coming off of the ball fairly quickly and tracking down some running backs from behind. Combine this burst with his strength and you're looking at a potential five-star defensive lineman. Malik throws high school lineman around like rag dolls, and I feel bad for them.
McDowell's size, strength and explosiveness make it difficult to tell if he's technically sound or not. He does use his hands well on tape, but he needs to learn to play with more consistent leverage when dealing with guards and centers on the inside. He's at his best when he can go one-on-one with offensive tackles in the running and passing games, hence why I hope he ends up at defensive end and not defensive tackle.
Overall, I think McDowell ends up being a slightly upgraded version of former South Carolina Gamecock and current Detroit Lion Devin Taylor. Taylor has a very similar frame and motor, but McDowell is stronger and more capable of making an impact in the run game.
Malik has kept things close to the vest for quite some time now. It was widely assumed that McDowell would end up at Michigan when his recruitment first began, and rumors of him wanting to pull the trigger early surfaced as a result of it. Things died down from there, and a year later there were whispers of Notre Dame leading for the dominant defensive end prospect. Michigan is apparently back in the lead today; it's clear that these are assumptions made off of little to no actual information from McDowell himself.
In the realm of actual information, McDowell has taken more than a handful of visits to in-state powers Michigan and Michigan State, also visiting Notre Dame once way back in June of 2012. Brady Hoke, Urban Meyer and Mark Dantonio have stopped in to talk to him in person. He holds offers from Alabama, Florida State, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Stanford and countless others.
I think Malik ends up at Michigan, and fourteen other recruiting analysts agree. Schematically, McDowell would be used more creatively at Michigan, where he would be a one-gap defender who is expected to get after the passer. Notre Dame wouldn't allow him to do this, and they're also not the team that McDowell has followed for years. I don't see him going to Michigan State when most of the state's elite players are in his ear to come to Michigan. It wouldn't surprise me if he decided to head to South Bend, but I'm fairly confident that he ends up in the maize and blue.
Please don't commit elsewhere and make me 0-for-2, Malik.