Los Angeles Chargers: Why OT Mike McGlinchey should be the pick at 17

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 02: Mike McGlinchey
SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 02: Mike McGlinchey /

There are four players I believe the Los Angeles Chargers should target with their first-round pick. Next up, Notre Dame OT Mike McGlinchey.

*Why S Derwin James should be the pick at 17

*Why LB Rashaan Evans should be the pick at 17

*Why DT Vita Vea should be the pick at 17

Before free agency started, I detailed why the offensive line, despite overachieving in 2017, still needed to be addressed.

The Chargers have to continue fortifying the offensive line if they want to get the best out of quarterback Philip Rivers and running back Melvin Gordon, as well as make a deep playoff run. They already made some moves, adding three-time Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey and re-signing tackle/guard Michael Schofield. The Chargers lost guards Matt Slauson and Kenny Wiggins, but they are better for it, especially with two promising second-year players–Dan Feeney and Forrest Lamp–taking over for the aging veterans.

As of now, this is where the line stands: Russell Okung at left tackle, Feeney at left guard, Pouncey at center, Lamp at right guard and Joseph Barksdale at right tackle; Schofield, center Spencer Pulley, tackle Sam Tevi and guard Donavon Clark are solid depth.

That said, the Chargers could really look to replace the 30-year-old Barksdale, who just isn’t cutting it anymore. Enter Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey.

McGlinchey is arguably the second-best lineman prospect behind teammate Quenton Nelson. Connor Williams is up there with McGlinchey, but the former Texas Longhorn is coming off a disappointing and injury-riddled 2017 after dominating the year prior.

McGlinchey was a 2017 first-team All American and two-time team captain (’16-17) for the Fighting Irish. According to his draft profile on NFL.com, he never missed a game, which general manager Tom Telesco will surely take notice of. He became a full-time starter at right tackle his sophomore year before switching over to left tackle his junior and senior seasons.

McGlinchey stands tall at 6-foot-8 and 309 pounds and has lengthy, 34-inch long arms. “Fundamentally sound” is a term that keeps popping up when doing research on McGlinchey. Scouts say he’s a technician with above-average hand placement, quick feet and good instincts and awareness. What also stands out is his ability to counter moves and recover quickly. A fun fact: In 2016, McGlinchey was rated one of college football’s most freakish athletes in College Football 24/7’s “16 for ’16” series, where it stated that he played every position (excluding the secondary) during his high school football days and was the best basketball player on Notre Dame’s football team.

In 2017, McGlinchey was Pro Football Focus’ second highest-graded tackle. He ranks first among draft-eligible tackles, per PFF’s Michael Renner. Here’s what Renner had to say:

“McGlinchey’s three-year sample of grading is about as good as we’ve seen since we started grading college players and easily tops in this class. The fact that he’s done it at both left and right tackle makes it that much easier a projection to the next level. He’s far from a perfect prospect, but he does so many things well that he’s ascended to the top of this class.”

PFF’s Steve Palazzolo also notes that McGlinchey earned top-10 run-blocking grades in each of the last three years, including leading all tackles with a 95.0 run-blocking grade in 2017. Last season, he helped pave the way for Josh Adams and his 1,430 rushing yards, which was the 14th-most yards in the FBS; Notre Dame ranked seventh in rushing yards per game (269.3). This is one of the main reasons why the Chargers are a good fit. The Chargers’ offensive line struggled mightily in run blocking last year. The team averaged 3.81 rushing yards per attempt, 26th-worst in the league. They also ranked 26th in run blocking DVOA, per Football Outsiders. And while McGlinchey is known for his run blocking, he only allowed 16 quarterback pressures, including three sacks, last year, per PFF.

This short thread here shows what McGlinchey’s all about. He also played well against top competition, per scouts. Last season, he held his own for the most part against N.C. State edge rusher Bradley Chubb, a consensus top-five pick in this year’s draft, and was very impressive against Georgia’s front seven. Here are highlights from a solid combine performance, too.

Like the guys over at PFF, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller is also high on McGlinchey.

Connor Williams and Mike McGlinchey both getting Round 1 grades from me. Both also grade out higher than any OT in last year's class.

— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) April 6, 2018

Many scouts say lack of strength and mobility (to an extent) are McGlinchey’s weaknesses, and it’s clear when watching the tape they aren’t wrong. He doesn’t get beat often, but he does get pushed back from time to time. Adding more muscle to his frame should help. Speed rushers have given him some fits, too. I mentioned he played well vs. Georgia, but in the final minutes of the game, he was beat by a speed rush which led to a strip sack that ultimately cost Notre Dame the game. It’s also fair to note that he had quite a few false starts in his first stint as Note Dame’s starting left tackle, but he appeared to have fixed that problem last season.

Where will he end up in the draft? McGlinchey’s stock is all over the place, but he’s definitely a lock as a first-round pick. The Chargers used three of their seven 2017 picks on linemen (Lamp in the second, Feeney in the third and Tevi in the sixth). I believe the Chargers should go heavy on defense in this year’s draft, but I wouldn’t be opposed to drafting an OL in the first should all of my favorite defenders get taken early.

And the selection of McGlinchey makes sense. The Chargers need an upgrade at right tackle, a future replacement for left tackle Russell Okung, who turns 31 years old in October, and they can save money by cutting Barksdale and use those funds elsewhere. Also, it’s best to have extra insurance in case Okung suffers an injury (if that were to happen, McGlinchey could slide over to the left and Tevi or Schofield could fill in at right tackle). As the starting right tackle, McGlinchey will play next to another high-quality guard in Lamp. That makes for an exciting duo.

The last time the Chargers needed an upgrade at right tackle, they reached for former Alabama offensive lineman D.J. Fluker with the No. 11 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. McGlinchey is far and away the better player, and he definitely wouldn’t be a reach at 17.