The Dolphins missed their shot to draft MVP quarterback Matt Ryan a decade ago, but maybe they’ll take his little cousin this year.
“Little” isn’t a great word to describe Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey, who stands as arguably the best offensive tackle in next week’s draft at 6-foot-8, 312 pounds. He was a three-year starter for the Fighting Irish and now he gets a chance to establish his own name in the NFL.
“It’s kind of been, ‘Mike McGlinchey, Matt Ryan’s first cousin’ since I was in high school,” McGlinchey said. “But I’m very thankful for that.
“Matt has guided me every step of the way, whether he knew it or not. Just watching the way Matt goes about his business, the way that he works, the way that people respect him is something that I’ve always worked for. He’s been my football hero ever since I was a little kid going to his (Boston College) games.”
That indirect advice might be part of the reason McGlinchey ended up at tackle. One summer when the family convened for vacation on the Jersey Shore, Ryan made the trip and wanted to get some throwing workouts in on the side. McGlinchey, then a high school tight end, volunteered, and they found an open park nearby.
Ryan, the No. 3 pick in the 2008 draft, was already a Pro Bowl quarterback who’d taken the Falcons to the playoffs a few times along with Julio Jones, Roddy White and Michael Turner. As precise as he is, he kept firing the ball well out of McGlinchey’s reach.
Finally, exasperated, McGlinchey yelled, “What are you doing?”
Ryan smirked and replied, “That’s where Julio goes up and gets it.”
McGlinchey mumbled to himself, “Alright, I’m not that guy.”
Playing tackle has worked out fine for McGlinchey, though. He’s good enough that there’s no certainty he’ll still be available when the Dolphins pick at No. 11. It’ll be close.
If Miami can’t get one of the top four quarterbacks in the draft, there are several positions that make sense. It’d be ideal for the team to land a starting linebacker there, safety is a worthwhile consideration and the offensive line always seems to need an upgrade.
The Dolphins are committed to Laremy Tunsil at left tackle and are optimistic that he will bounce back from an uneven 2017 season. At right tackle, they exercised a $9.3 million option to keep Ja’Wuan James for another year, but he’s been unconvincing the last two seasons and will be a free agent next spring.
Miami might also have interest in fellow Notre Dame product Quenton Nelson, a guard. Those two helped form one of the best offensive lines in the country last season.
McGlinchey is viewed as someone who could start right away at left tackle, but he also started 13 games on the right side in 2015, when first-round pick Ronnie Stanley was working on the left.
He’s done incredible work to morph into a lineman of this caliber, putting on between 50 and 60 pounds since he arrived at Notre Dame.
“I knew I was going to play offensive tackle, but I wasn’t physically prepared to do it,” McGlinchey said. “I took a lot of lumps early on trying to get in the weight room, trying to get extra reps, trying to get on the field and break into the mold of being a starter.
“I got beat up a lot. I made more mistakes than I can even count, and that’s the reason why I’m here today, because of the way that I was pushed… I needed to learn a lot about o-line, playing it the right way, doing things the right way and how to be a pro about it.”
He seems to have learned quite a bit, and now he’s ready to prove it in the NFL. As the Dolphins work through all their contingencies for the first round of the draft, McGlinchey can’t be ignored.
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