April 21, 2018
As the date nears, Mike McGlinchey is trying not to pay attention to the myriad of mock drafts and white noise surrounding next week’s NFL Draft. It’s not always easy for the towering 6-foot-9, 312-pound Notre Dame offensive tackle and 2013 Penn Charter grad.
Since he was a year old, when people would ask Janet and Michael McGlinchey, Mike’s parents, how old their baby was and were shocked to learn the pudgy toddler that could barely fit in the stroller had yet to turn two.
But this is a new form of scrutiny. NFL scouts, coaches, player personnel people and analytics advisers have all done their probing. It’s now up to Mike McGlinchey to do the waiting for his name to be called Thursday night in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft from the Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium.
Indications are that’s where McGlinchey, the first cousin of NFL star quarterback Matt Ryan, is going to go. McGlinchey has been rated as the No. 1 tackle in the draft by NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock. He'll most likely will be the second Notre Dame offensive lineman taken, after teammate Quenton Nelson, a 6-5, 330-pound guard who’s expected to go by many within the first five picks.
Though McGlinchey has been projected all over the place – from as high as the eighth pick to the Chicago Bears, where he would be reunited with his former Notre Dame offensive line coach, Harry Hiestand, to as low as the No. 32 pick, his hometown Eagles.
“That would be ideal for me, I would love to be drafted by the Eagles,” admitted McGlinchey, who graduated Notre Dame with a degree in communications, film and television, and a business economics minor. “I have no problems playing at home. I hear nothing but good things about the Eagles, how they treat their players. They’re a class organization. It’s like every kid’s dream to play for the team they rooted for as a kid.
“Philadelphia is my home. It’s where my family is. It’s where my girlfriend is. All my friends are in Philly, other than the ones I made at Notre Dame. Philly has always been my city, it’s been my home, I grew up an Eagles’ fan. It’s the team I rooted for before Matt got into the NFL. It would be a dream come true playing for the Philadelphia Eagles, just as it would be playing for anyone in the NFL.
“I’m trying not to pay any attention to all of the projections, but at the same time, you hear a lot about it.”
McGlinchey plays with a steely-eyed intensity, a constant chip on his shoulder that offensive line coaches love. And special teams coaches. And tight end coaches. And wide receiver coaches. And defensive coaches.
If anyone remembers the famous Bugs Bunny cartoon where he played every position against the Gashouse Gorillas, that was basically McGlinchey at Penn Charter.
He’s so athletic that, in his senior year, he played center, both tackle positions, long snapped, played tight end, was positioned as a slot receiver and even played quarterback, once throwing a pass. The only position he didn’t play on offense is guard. Defensively, he lined up inside as a nose tackle, defensive tackle, played defensive end, was positioned as a stand-up linebacker and inside linebacker.
Things weren't as easy at the next level. Once at Notre Dame, McGlinchey received a crash course in how to be a major college football player.
I always prided myself on being the hardest worker on the team and never being satisfied. The goal is get better each and every day ... Personally, I’ll probably never get to where I want to be.
He was the tall, skinny kid who was shoved around every day in practice by future NFL defensive linemen Stephon Tuitt and Sheldon Day. McGlinchey had his fair share of being stepped on. The growing pains subsided once he added the pounds to what was then his lithe 275-pound frame and absorbed the nuances of playing right tackle. He mastered the position under the tutelage of Hiestand, one of the best offensive line coaches in the country — college or pro.
McGlinchey, a four-year starter for the Irish, is an offensive lineman who looks to initiate contact. And almost everything he came into contact with while at Penn Charter and Notre Dame, he destroyed.
By his junior year, McGlinchey was moved to the left side, where the Irish were able to take advantage of his quick feet, his massive frame, and what NFL scouts consider his great run-blocking ability – not to mention his ability to get out on the perimeter to block on screens.
There was a natural adjustment process in moving from the right side to the left. It was important to McGlinchey to continue evolving as a right tackle, and just when he got it down and felt comfortable in that role, he was suddenly thrust into a new position.
McGlinchey made the switch fairly seamlessly, which speaks volumes of his versatility.
“There was a huge difference going from right tackle to left tackle, which I didn’t realize at the time,” said McGlinchey, a consensus all-American his senior year as a left tackle at Notre Dame. “The learning curve was different, just because of body mechanics. You train two or three years to do it one way, and your body adapts, then all of a sudden, you have to do everything the opposite.
“It took some time to get used to that. I don’t know if I’ve still truly mastered it, because I spent so much time playing right tackle that when I switched to left, I didn’t have as much time to perfect the craft. It was a learning curve for body mechanics, but the scheme was the same.
“I always prided myself on being the hardest worker on the team and never being satisfied. The goal is get better each and every day, and any football player that feels that they’re 100-percent where they want to be is not a very football player, if they don’t feel they can continue improving. Personally, I’ll probably never get to where I want to be.”
During his senior year at Notre Dame, McGlinchey was able to crush the 3-technique and still maintain his balance to reach linebackers. He learned the kick step and honed his punch out on edge rushers. He rarely over extended, keeping himself between the defender and the quarterback on passing plays.
McGlinchey’s telephone-poll, 34-inch reach make it hard for opponents to get around him, and his freakish athleticism, especially for someone his size, makes him ideal as a cornerstone tackle for any NFL team for the next decade.
“The key to McGlinchey this year, and I’ve spoken to most of the league now, is that he’s hands down the No. 1 tackle in the draft,” Mayock said. “The reason is that you know what you’re getting with Michael. He’s the only tackle in the entire draft anyone could say that about. He’s the best run-blocking tackle in the draft, and he’s a very good pass protector.
“He can play on both sides, the left side or the right side, and his football IQ and his passion for the game are off the charts, so coaches want to work with him. It wouldn’t surprise me if he goes earlier than people think. I can easily see him going in the first half of the first round. He won’t be around for the Eagles at 32.”
McGlinchey improved immeasurably under Hiestand, as did Nelson. Both Notre Dame players come into the draft “NFL ready,” according to Mayock.
Most college offensive linemen don’t place their hand in the dirt anymore, with the spread offenses being played. Another aspect is most college offenses don’t require their linemen to move defenders in the run game. Much of college running attacks are based on offensive linemen shielding runners and using positional football to be effective.
McGlinchey put his hand in the dirt at Notre Dame. His improvement had to come in pass protection.
“Mike had to become more consistent with his passing blocking technique,” Mayock said. “Every once in a while, he struggled with someone. Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy from Georgia got him a little bit. They pinned his outside arm and shortened the corner, but then you realize, two weeks later, no one is doing that to McGlinchey anymore.
“He learned from his mistakes. I would say Michael is going to get continually better because of that, and because of his attitude. I don’t think Mike is going be a left tackle like [future Hall of Famer] Joe Thomas, where he’s going to make 12 Pro Bowls in a row, but Michael is going to play the next 10-to-12 years in the NFL at a very high level, and he will play in Pro Bowls.
“As long as he stays injury free, as he was in college, Michael is going to answer the bell every freakin’ week and he’s going to have a great career. Michael has great character, and one of the comments from teams I’ve heard about him is, when you draft Mike McGlinchey, you’re not only getting the football player in the field, but you’re getting the guy who’s going to be the lead dog in the offensive line meeting room—and over time, also be a big part of what your culture is in your overall locker room.”
Mayock said McGlinchey will go to whatever the first team selecting needs a tackle.
McGlinchey is represented by power agent Tom Condon, the same agent who represents Ryan, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, and Alex Smith, but he’s going to stay here in Philadelphia during the draft and not make the trip to Dallas. He’s from a gigantic family, with over 100 relatives.
It’s important for him to have his family there. It's at the core of one measurable that can be weighed in abundance with McGlinchey.
After his junior year, McGlinchey could have easily declared for the draft and been a mid-to-late first rounder. Instead, he chose to stay despite the fact that the Irish finished 4-8 his junior year and were in a mess. McGlinchey had a problem with that.
I’m listening to the people who are important to me and who truly know me. ... I’m focusing on what I can control and keep getting better. I’m trying to eliminate all of the outside noise.
There were whispers in his ear to leave from many different people — that he didn’t owe Notre Dame anything. McGlinchey felt that he did owe something: to himself, to head coach Brian Kelly and Hiestand, to the program, and most of all, to his Notre Dame teammates coming back.
“I was getting heat from a lot of people to go, but I couldn’t leave like that, going 4-8,” said McGlinchey, who received a first-round grade after his junior year. “I knew I was going to stay in school. I had a responsibility as a Notre Dame man. I gave a commitment to Notre Dame. Notre Dame as a school, as a football program, never deserved to be in the position that we were during my junior season, which was a 4-8 season.
“As someone who takes a lot of pride in where I go to school, and who I play for, Notre Dame was too great for that. I was pissed off, everyone in our building was. I wanted the program to be better than that. I wasn’t going to leave Notre Dame in the state that it was in, and I knew I could play a big role in helping get the program back where it should be, and where it deserves to be.
“I had to be honest with myself, I knew I had to be better. You can’t listen to the people who don’t know you. I didn’t want to go to the NFL being a guy who looked good on paper, and could work out, rather than be a sure thing. I would have had a problem knowing I could be a more complete player. It wasn’t hard at all to be brutally honest with yourself. It wasn’t a hard decision at all to stay, first as a commitment to my team, and then to myself.”
McGlinchey is in a good place right now. He says it’s getting a little stressful as the draft nears, and in the meantime, he’s trying to keep his eyes off the mock drafts and his ears away from the speculation.
“I’m listening to the people who are important to me and who truly know me,” McGlinchey said. “I’m staying in Philly for the draft. I’m focusing on what I can control and keep getting better. I’m trying to eliminate all of the outside noise. I have 100 people that are blood related to me. We’ll make it a private party at a restaurant somewhere, and I wasn’t going to have any cameras there at all. I want to enjoy the moment with my family.”
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