News broke late Monday night that Michigan State junior defensive lineman Malik McDowell will be foregoing his senior season in East Lansing, as he has reportedly hired an agent will enter the 2017 NFL Draft.

This should not come as much of a surprise, McDowell has been regarded as a potential NFL talent since arriving at MSU and was a projected top-10 overall pick coming into the 2016 season. In fact, he is on record saying that he would only prematurely depart for the NFL if it was considered by ‘experts’ as a top-3 pick.

Among the notable national draft analysts, both ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay have McDowell currently listed as a top-15 pick. Dane Brugler of CBSSports projects the 6-foot-6, 275-pound Detroit-native and Southfield High School product to also be somewhere in the top 20 overall. McDowell was limited to just nine games in 2016 with numerous lingering injuries, he totaled 34 tackles (20 solo), 7.5 for a loss of yards, and 1.5 sacks. For his three-year MSU career, he racked up 88 tackles (24.5 TFL) and 7.5 sacks. In addition to the injuries, McDowell’s talents were often limited at times because opposing offensive lines would double-team him to prevent him from wreaking havoc. Unfortunately for McDowell and the Spartans, the rest of the defensive line failed miserably at picking up the slack this year.

The former 5-star recruit McDowell will become the the third defensive lineman under head coach Mark Dantonio to forego their senior season and enter the NFL Draft, joining Jerel Worthy (2nd round, 2012) and William Gholston (4th round, 2013). McDowell will also be the ninth Spartan to exit the program early and go pro. Should he end up being selected in the first round, it would be the fourth year in a row that Dantonio and Michigan State will have a former player drafted as team’s top pick (Jack Conklin – 2016, TEN; Trae Waynes – 2015, MIN; Darqueze Dennard – 2014, CIN).