With Shilique Calhoun off to the NFL, the next defensive line talent in the pipeline in East Lansing, Mich., is Malik McDowell. McDowell -- a 6-foot-6, 276-pound junior -- is entering his second season as a starter for the Spartans. In 27 career games, McDowell has registered 17 tackles for losses and six sacks.
McDowell -- a second-team All-Big Ten pick in 2015 -- is on the 2016 watch lists for the Bednarik Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Outland Trophy.
Pulling back the curtain on the vote
McDowell earned votes from four of seven CFB 24/7 experts, including two in the top 15. In CFB 24/7's "16 for '16" series, McDowell was rated No. 10 on the list of college football defenders most likely to become NFL stars.
What some of our analysts are saying about McDowell
"McDowell's production was good but not great last season. He should see a spike in production this season as his experience level gets closer to matching up with his talent. He has great length and the ability to slip through crevices to disrupt in the backfield." -- Lance Zierlein
"He has been in their rotation from Game 1 as a freshman. Now, he's simply one of the best players in the country. Strong, agile and capable of getting upfield to wreak havoc." -- Charles Davis
"This tall, lean nose tackle knives through gaps but still manages to maintain leverage inside. He hasn't disappointed the Spartans since arriving on campus, and with that get-off and strength, he should only get better." -- Chad Reuter
Where do fans rank McDowell?
We asked Twitter users who they considered the best player in college football. McDowell didn't receive a vote. That isn't a surprise. McDowell is following in the footsteps of Calhoun, who also didn't receive any fan votes last year en route to a No. 17-rating among CFB 24/7 experts in the #CFBTop20 countdown.