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Don’t Call it a Comeback: Malik McDowell Makes Cleveland Browns Roster

Don’t Call it a comeback, I been here for years. I’m rockin’ my peers, putting suckers in fear! One of the best offseason stories came to life yesterday in Berea. Malik McDowell, who was signed by the Clevleand Browns in May after being out of football since 2017, made the Browns’ 53-man roster yesterday. He was told by head coach Kevin Stefanski to hold onto his playbook because he would be around for a little while longer.

McDowell, a second-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks in the 2017 NFL Draft, had not stepped on a football field since he was drafted. He suffered a head injury while riding an ATV and had some run-ins with the law that found him serving 11 months in prison.

“It was more of a manifestation,” McDowell said. “I was always thinking, pushing, working. I showed them that I had that hunger. I told them how much I wanted it, and how much I didn’t want to let them down.”

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Malik McDowell cleveland browns roster
Credit: Jason Miller/Getty Images

How Malik McDowell Got Here

McDowell was being looked at as a first-round prospect for the 2017 NFL Draft after leaving Michigan State. While playing for the Spartans, for three years, he racked up 88 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 24.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and one interception. Not to mention he’s 6’6″ and weighs nearly 300 pounds. However, leading up to the draft, he had a lot of terrible interviews, including one where he said he didn’t really like playing football and really didn’t like playing football at Michigan State. By the time the actual draft rolled around, the red flags were all over McDowell. He slipped into the second round, where the Seahawks drafted him. Many considered the move to be a steal. However, he would never step onto a football field in Seattle.

Only a couple of weeks after being drafted, he was in an ATV accident that left him with a head injury. Not even a month later, he was arrested on a DUI charge and given 12 months of probation. As if things weren’t going bad enough, by December of that year, he was charged with disorderly conduct. Pete Carroll and the Seahawks organization had enough and they cut him in 2019. The last ledge he hit on his downward spiral was him getting charged in two other incidents, leading to an 11-month jail sentence.

“Jail gave me a lot of time to think about what I wanted to do in life,” he said Tuesday. “It really gave me the motivation to push and try to fight to get back what I lost.”


Shifting His Focus

In a span of about a year, McDowell was able to change his lifestyle to be more healthy and focused solely on making an NFL roster. Luckily for him, Browns GM Andrew Berry gave him a chance to make the roster, and he did not disappoint. During the preseason and training camp, he was incredibly dominant. Malik McDowell came to camp in incredible shape and was able to hold his own in a position group that has Jadeveon Clowney and Myles Garrett. This preseason, McDowell has been very noticeable, considering he keeps finding ways to stuff the run or put pressure on the quarterback. Kevin Stefanski had this to say about McDowell.

“He is very powerful,” Stefanski said. “He’s made sure to make the most of this opportunity. He is going to have to continue to do that, and he understands that.”

Malik McDowell On Making Browns 53-man Roster

Other Cleveland Browns News

Overall, this is still the first chapter in McDowell’s comeback story. He told Berry and Stefanski that if they gave him a chance, that he wouldn’t let them down. Well, he’s kept up his end of the bargain and could become a major cog in the Browns’ outstanding defensive line.

There weren’t too many surprises when the Browns 53-man roster was announced on Tuesday. As I said in my article earlier this week, KhaDarel Hodge was probably going to be a veteran who gets cut, and he indeed was let go. He was scheduled to make around $2 million this year, so the Browns freed up some cap space.

Some other notable cuts were Sheldrick Redwine and Porter Gustin. Redwine had been with the Browns since he was drafted in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He made some good plays in brown and orange, including intercepting a Ben Roethlisberger last year in the Browns’ playoff win over the Steelers. Gustin, who also picked off a Big Ben pass in the playoff game last year, was also cut.

With all that being said, it’s been a pretty stellar offseason for Andrew Berry and the Browns. They drafted two defensive playmakers in the first and second rounds. On top of that, they were able to build depth at a lot of positions as well through the draft. Add John Johnson III, Jadeveon Clowney and Troy Hill to that mix, and boom! You have yourself one of the best NFL rosters, on paper that is.

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