The Michigan State defensive tackle was taken with the third pick in the second round of the NFL draft by the Seattle Seahawks, the 35th selection overall.
McDowell, who left Michigan State after his junior season, was in the green room for the first round on Thursday but never heard his name called after his stock fell rapidly from the end of the 2016 season.
The 6-foot-6, 276-pounder was one of the more polarizing players in the draft.
Seen by most as one of the more talented players available, McDowell has seen his stock drop steadily since the end of the season as analysts have dissected his tape and team officials got the chance to interview the former freshman All-American during the NFL Combine in March.
Neither resulted in anything positive for the Detroit native as one team official, according to Yahoo Sports, said McDowell's interview at the Combine was the "worst" he'd ever conducted. Other analysts praised McDowell's ability while crushing him for his perceived lack of effort.
"I think you're trying to guess on which Malik McDowell you're going to get," NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said heading into the draft. "Are you going to get the guy that I watched against Notre Dame that was explosive, was making plays all over the field, playing hard, showing active hands? ... Then you see some other games and it's like he didn't want to be out on the field.
"Malik McDowell drove me nuts because there are so many plays he doesn't make his way into the picture frame at the end of the play. Just no effort."
McDowell was a freshman All-American in 2014 and earned second-team All-Big Ten honors in 2015. A big season was expected in 2016 but it never materialized, no doubt affected by the Spartans' dismal 3-9 season and lack of playmakers on the defensive line.
He finished with 34 tackles, including seven for loss in nine games. But McDowell did not play the final three games because of an ankle injury, a stretch that stood out to naysayers.
"With that sort of talent, you shouldn't get drafted in the second round," ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said after the pick.