By Charlie Campbell
Summary: McGlinchey could have been the closest thing to a franchise left tackle in the 2017 NFL Draft, but he decided to return for his senior year. He wouldn’t have been one of the best tackle prospects to come out in years, but he was a very good prospect with upside to be an impact-making left tackle. McGlinchey would have been a safer pick than the two tackles who went in the first round, because both Denver’s Garett Bolles and New Orleans’ Ryan Ramczyk were only 1-year starters in college. McGlinchey, meanwhile, impressed over the past three seasons as a starter for Notre Dame.
McGlinchey broke into starting lineup during his sophomore year – 2015 -, putting together an impressive season as a pass protector at right tackle with Ronnie Stanley manning the left side. In 2016, McGlinchey took over at left tackle after Stanley moved on to the NFL. McGlinchey had a fine season protecting DeShone Kizer and opening holes in the ground game. McGlinchey had a real problem with repeated false start penalties as a junior, but he fixed that issue as a senior.
McGlinchey play his best footballed his best football as a senior, performing superbly as a run blocker. The Fighting Irish fielded a great rushing offense with McGlinchey opening a lot of holes. In the majority of games, he was very good in pass protection. The only games in which he had real problems in protection were against Georgia and Miami.
As a run blocker, McGlinchey can create movement at the point of attack. He flashes heavy hands to push defenders out of their gaps and open holes for his back. McGlinchey has strength to start out his NFL career at right tackle and be a plus run blocker. Many NFL teams have right-handed rushing attacks, so putting a finesse tap-dancing college left tackle on the right side can be a detriment to the ground game. However, McGlinchey has the flexibility to play the right side and be a contributor in the rushing offense.
In pass protection, McGlinchey looked like a natural at left tackle as a junior, and he only improved as a senior. McGlinchey has solid feet and quickness to get depth in his kick slide and cut off edge rushers. He also displays a nice ability to bend at the knee, and that in combination with his feet, keeps him from having to reach after edge rushers very often. McGlinchey has nice recoverability and is able to keep pressures from becoming sacks.
McGlinchey possesses good enough feet, quickness, and athleticism to be a left tackle at the next level, but he isn’t elite in those areas. Top speed rushers can give him problems when they come flying around the edge. Many times McGlinchey would play really well against those players throughout the game, except a few plays would get away from him. That point was given evidence against Georgia and Miami during the 2017 season. McGlinchey could stand to improve his ability to get depth to cut off smaller, faster rushers. In the NFL, especially early in his career, he might need some help when he is going against a top pass-rusher. McGlinchey has a lot of tapes where he was playing well but one or two mistakes would put a sour taste on what was otherwise a strong performance.
That being said, McGlinchey did have a solid game and played well against N.C. State’s Bradley Chubb in 2017, a potential top-10 pick and the best edge defender McGlinchey faced as a senior. The 2016 game against Chubb was a mixed outing for McGlinchey, although that was also literally played in a hurricane.
McGlinchey’s career performance provides evidence that he is a future starting left tackle in the NFL and a first-round pick. I think McGlinchey could be a quality starting left tackle with some Pro Bowl appearances during his career. I don’t think McGlinchey will be an elite shut-down left tackle like a Joe Thomas, who could go against the best edge rushers in the league and erase them. Still, McGlinchey could be a solid starting left tackle and is worthy of a Thursday night selection in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Player Comparison: Duane Brown. Brown and McGlinchey are very similar. They are both plus run blockers who also can be solid in pass protection. While they are generally good in protection, they aren’t shut-down left tackles and will give up some pressures and sacks against good rushers from time to time, with plenty of wins mixed in against those rushers as well. Both Brown and McGlinchey are assets in the run game and are better run blockers than typical left tackles. Brown was a late first-round pick, and McGlinchey could go in the middle to back portion for the first round as well.
NFL Matches: Cleveland, Tampa Bay, Denver, Miami, Arizona, Baltimore, Seattle, Cincinnati, Jacksonville and Philadelphia
There are a lot of teams that could be a fit for McGlinchey in the 2018 NFL Draft. Early in the first round, there are a few teams that could shock the league by taking McGlinchey higher than expected. Joe Thomas retired, and the Browns will need a new starter at left tackle, so it could be possible that Cleveland would think of McGlinchey with the fourth-overall pick. One pick later, Denver could use more offensive line help. They could move Garett Bolles to the right side and really improve their offensive line with McGlinchey. Tampa Bay probably will address more pressing needs, but the team could use a left tackle upgrade. If the Bucs took McGlinchey, they could move Donovan Smith to right tackle or guard.
The Dolphins need help on the line and might not keep Ja’Wuan James for the long term. Miami could draft McGlinchey in the first round and start him out at guard. If James isn’t in the long-term plans, then McGlinchey could move to right tackle to form a tandem with Laremy Tunsil.
The Cardinals’ offensive line was a mess in 2017. If Arizona doesn’t take a quarterback in the first round, McGlinchey makes a lot of sense for the Cardinals as an offensive line upgrade.
Baltimore could use an upgrade at right tackle, so reuniting McGlinchey and Ronnie Stanley could make sense for the Ravens.
Seattle traded for Duane Brown in 2017, but he is an aging and declining veteran. McGlinchey could start out at right tackle, which would be an upgrade over Germain Ifedi. Ifedi could then move to left guard and improve that position over Luke Joeckel. Brown is in the last year of his contract with the Seahawks, and McGlinchey could then move to left tackle and replace Brown when his time is done in Seattle.
Even after trading for Cordy Glenn, Cincinnati could look to do more to improve its offensive line, so McGlinchey could be in play for the Bengals at right tackle. If they draft McGlinchey, they could move Cedric Ogbuehi inside to guard.
The Jaguars’ offensive line could still get better and more talented. McGlinchey could be better in pass protection than Cam Robinson. Robinson then could upgrade the Jacksonville line at right tackle.
Philadelphia needs another tackle of the future to pair with Lane Johnson, but it is hard to see McGlinchey getting to the Super Bowl champion’s first-round pick.
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