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Todd McShay's mock draft has Seahawks landing DT Malik McDowell

Malik McDowell struggled through an ankle injury in 2016 but his potential is undeniable. Mike Carter/USA TODAY Sports

In his most recent mock draft, ESPN's Todd McShay has the Seattle Seahawks taking Michigan State defensive tackle Malik McDowell at No. 26 in the first round.

Looking at the Seahawks' history, defensive line is an area where they're willing to spend early draft capital. Seattle has spent a top-100 pick on a defensive lineman in three of the past four drafts.

McDowell (6-foot-6, 295 pounds) was a highly touted recruit who is leaving school after his junior year. Entering last season, draft analysts had him projected as a top 10 pick, but McDowell had just 1.5 sacks and seven tackles for loss in 2016 as he struggled through an ankle injury.

There's no denying his potential, though. McDowell has long arms (34 3/4 inches) and is one of the better athletes at his position in this year's class. He has positional versatility and a high ceiling.

The Seahawks had a strong pass rush last season with Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett and Frank Clark. But Avril and Bennett will be 31 years old at the start of next season.

McDowell would be someone who could compete for a rotational spot right away with guys such as second-year player Quinton Jefferson. And he'd project as a starter down the road.

Offensive line is still the Seahawks' biggest need, but Pete Carroll admitted recently that it's not an area of strength in this year's draft.

Because of that, it'd be no surprise to see Seattle go with defense early and spend its first-round pick on a player like McDowell.