Kansas City Chiefs fans should not get their hopes up about Malik McDowell


As a recent second round pick, it’s easy for fans to wonder if they can be the franchise to get something out of Malik McDowell. No one should count on it.

The Seattle Seahawks will likely make it official today. Word has been spreading over the last two days that the team is ready to cut ties with former second round pick Malik McDowell—former, as in just last year. It’s a sad story with a sad ending and, despite any hopes that might arise for another team’s fan base, a likely sad future as well.

The Seahawks invested a second round pick in McDowell despite plenty of personal question marks because the talent is simply that good—too good to not take such a risk on. At 6’6, 295 pounds, McDowell possesses ideal length, strength and size to push blockers as well as a rare athletic burst that allows him to move around even the best blockers. Think of the way Chris Jones can single-handedly disrupt the line and sideline a play.

Unfortunately, McDowell came with “buyer beware” signs attached, so it was no secret that Pete Carroll and company were taking a chance. Hence the reason he fell to the second round. A poor work ethic, a lack of leadership, middling efforts—they all served as past warning signs for any NFL team who was suddenly going to throw him a lot of cash.

Fast forward to his rookie season when McDowell never played a single down. Unfortunately he suffered a serious head trauma from an ATV accident at his home in Michigan, leading him to be placed on injured reserve. Even after a couple months, Carroll admitted that “no progress” was being made.

The cherry on top, so to speak, came last December when McDowell was arrested in Atlanta for disorderly conduct. Not only did he miss his entire rookie year due to injury but he couldn’t even stay out of trouble. Now a few months later, the Seahawks are ready to hit reset on the entire experiment.

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It’s easy for another team to look at McDowell, see the potential displayed at Michigan State and the second round investment, and believe they could reap the rewards. A quick glance at social media for any team’s fan base shows people who are hopeful they will be able to sign McDowell and assumedly nurture him to be a good citizen and consistent player. That would also be the wrong idea.

This is not about a good player who is a bad scheme fit. A change of scenery won’t do much here except provide new environment for old behavior. Here’s why:

  • If numerous coaches have tried over the years to “reach” McDowell, it takes a remarkable amount of arrogance for a front office or staff to think they could succeed where others failed.
  • Most importantly, McDowell still has not been cleared medically. Forget concerns about attitude or effort. McDowell had a head trauma that kept him out for an entire year. That’s no small thing and a head injury is nothing to mess with. If he’s not cleared by one doctor for one team (who already made the investment), then no other team should feel good about saying he’s okay. He’s likely going to need more time and even then who knows if going back to donning a helmet is the best vocation for him.

Yes, McDowell is still very young (younger than several of this year’s draft prospects), so if he was ever able to be medically cleared, then the shot becomes much easier to give. For now, however, no NFL team should even think about McDowell. He’s more than just an unknown. He’s a negative who isn’t even healthy enough to play. Here’s hoping he can turn things around off the field by focusing on what matters most without trying to impress anyone with regards to football right now.