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The Falcons should absolutely be monitoring Malik McDowell’s status

The former first round pick could be a terrific player if he is healthy enough to play.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks-Minicamp Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s what we know about Malik McDowell: He was the 35th pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, he was one of the best (if most enigmatic) defensive tackles in last year’s class, and he’s still only 21 years old. In a more fortunate dimension, he’s capping off a successful rookie season for the Seahawks and looking ahead to a potentially dominant second season.

We don’t live in that world, though. McDowell was involved in what has repeatedly been described as a “serious” ATV accident that left him with facial injuries and concussion-like symptoms, at minimum, and those ailments cost him his entire rookie season. Now, with the Seahawks medical staff reportedly unable to clear him medically, it appears the team is set to release him.

I don’t have to tell you that this indicates a very serious set of injuries, indeed, and that McDowell may never play in the NFL again. I can acknowledge that and still tell you with a perfectly straight face that the Falcons should be interested enough to keep tabs on McDowell in the coming weeks and months.

Why? Because McDowell’s ceiling has been compared to that of Calais Campbell, a phenomenal interior defensive lineman the Falcons would love to have if they could. Because they have a huge hole at defensive tackle, and having McDowell around as a potential lottery ticket would go a long way toward solving that need. I’m not proposing outright that the team sign him because his future seems so uncertain, but I would hate to see the Falcons pass up a chance to sign him if he’s able to continue his career.

Keep your hopes low and your expectations lower, here, but I hope we have cause to re-visit this discussion at some point in the not-too-distant future. Wherever McDowell ends up, in the NFL or otherwise, I wish him well.