Leading up to the NFL Draft many teams will continue their evaluation process on prospects while altering their draft boards in preparation for Draft day. Couch Potato GM will provide you a breakdown of two prospects matched against each other with similar draft projections to get you prepped for the 2017 draft. Voting option below for your input on who you think the better prospect is.
The Matchup: The battle of the big men along the defensive line pits the talented Malik McDowell against the penetrating Caleb Brantley. These two might be listed at the same position on paper but they offer very different skill-sets. McDowell is a guy you can see lined up at many different positions along the defensive line from nose tackle all the way to edge rusher. Potential was never a question for McDowell as he was a top recruit out of high school and at times flashed dominance on the football field for Michigan State. McDowell has a rare size/speed combination who penetrates through interior offensive lineman with the capability of beating offensive tackles around the edges. The major concern with McDowell however is, does he have it between the ears? He is a wild boy who can be seen taking himself out of plays and has some legitimate character concerns off the field. Brantley is the bigger player who has a tailor-made position at the next level, 3 technique. He fits that position to the T with his penetrating style of play that disrupts running backs in the backfield. Quickness off the ball is Brantley’s game, teams won’t have to worry about him as he will be exactly where he needs to be on the field. Coaches will have to figure out if Brantley can be a three down player as he excelled versus the run but struggled to get to the quarterback consistently.
CPGM Headley’s Take: I can’t deny what I saw when watching McDowell on tape. Before I knew about how much of an issue McDowell was for the Spartan coaches, I thought he was one of the Top 10 players in the draft. I still believe he is a top talent who can play any position along the defensive line but there is some cause for concern regarding whether or not McDowell is coachable. Even with the character concerns, please give me McDowell over Brantley. The Gator defensive tackle Brantley flashes with his straight line quickness to the backfield and I believe he will be a solid 2-down player at the next level. I strongly question if Brantley will ever be able to be a consistent pass rusher due to his inability to move laterally once he gets going. If he can be a contributor like Grady Jarrett for the Atlanta Falcons sign me up as he will be able to slide to nose in passing situations. I just didn’t see the production on tape which makes him a Day 2 pick for me. The defensive line is a position that you aren’t really looking for a choir boy as you usually need some kind of edge to play that position at a high level. McDowell plays with an edge that might not always look pretty but he can be dominate which gives him an extremely high ceiling.
CPGM Drew’s Take: Caleb Brantley is one the most explosive/quick DT prospects off the ball and causes plenty of disruption in the back field. Plays the 3 tech more Gerald McCoy/Grady Jarrett like then Aaron Donald. By that I mean great initial push and disruption but not ample stats to show for the job well done (sacks, TFL’s, takeaways, etc). Brantley also played the nose in 2015 beside Jonathan Bullard who played the 3 technique comprising one of the best interior Dline tandems in the country. Pairing him with a “baller” (all pro/playmaker) of some kind on either side of him and watch the line of scrimmage crumble like toast in a 2-year-old’s hands. One big concern I have like a number of Florida defenders are the injuries, injuries, injuries. There’s nothing like a player who has been given all the tools and blessed with all the talent and is just “meh” because he’s not getting his way. Honestly if Malik McDowell was to play to his full potential and capabilities we are talking about him being a Top 10 player and possible being the 2nd DL taken. When you talk of his skill set, here is a player who can set the edge, explode and destroy the line of scrimmage at will, and if not destroy it then control it, can disengage with the OL with ease and has some quickness to boot. As you think of all those attributes all in one person that same person can be non-existent, M.I.A., or down right loafing and allowing the OL who he beat for consecutive plays on end, move him about like he was a freshmen walk-on who’s never played the game a day in his life. Its maddening and frustrating. We talk more here in this podcast!!!
NFL Comparison: Malik McDowell – Muhammad Wilkerson; Caleb Brantley – Grady Jarrett