When the Seahawks drafted Malik McDowell after three moves down last weekend, both John Schneider and Pete Carroll had some motivational words for him on the phone — signs that concerns about his effort were valid.
But Carroll explained in more detail Thursday why they are not worried about McDowell’s desire and fit with the hypercompetitive Seahawks.
“He had a monster year as a sophomore,” Carroll told 710 ESPN, referring to McDowell’s 4.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss for Michigan State in 2015. “He came into the (2016) season with a high ankle sprain. It almost debilitates you, but he kept playing and kept battling.
“We see the whole body of evaluation … that tells us … we’ve got a great guy here potentially,” Carroll added. “He’s 20 years old. … He’s just getting started.”
The Seahawks were known to have brought McDowell in for a VMAC visit before the draft.
“We had extensive meetings with him to figure out what he’s all about,” Carroll said. “He loves to play. It’s important to him. He wants to be great. … He’s not going to be a flashy, rah-rah type of guy. He likes to see himself fit in. It’s really important that he fits in.”
Then Carroll explained where the 6-foot-6, 295-pounder fits in Seattle’s defense.
“I think what we’re seeing is a guy who has tremendous upside in a body frame that is much different than the guys we’ve had,” the coach said. “The instincts that he shows to find the football, disengage from blocks and make plays is something that gives us a chance to have a really special player.”
Carroll said McDowell will play 5-technique “like Michael Bennett does, featured as an insider rusher on passing downs and in the nickel group. He’ll play both spots. He’s played all three spots throughout his years, so we can see the flexibility.”
Carroll said McDowell was miscast as a nose tackle at times for Michigan State — a role that “totally diminishes his ability.”
“When we see him in the right spots we’re going to feature him at, we know we’ve got a prospect who’s going to be very good for us,” the coach added.
In the pass rush, the Hawks figure to add McDowell to Bennett, Cliff Avril and Frank Clark (with Cassius Marsh also part of the rotation).
“If Malik can add to Michael being the other tackle, that just makes a big difference for us. Even if he just gets his hands up, we get a factor there.”
Carroll also hopes Dion Jordan, the No. 3 overall pick in 2013, will contribute. He is coming off a knee injury, but Carroll said, “We know he’s going to be a good addition, too.”