No regrets for ND's Mike McGlinchey while DeShone Kizer plays NFL Draft waiting game

Eric Hansen
South Bend Tribune

It could have been Mike McGlinchey’s night.

In his hometown of Philadelphia, with the epicenter of the football world on Thursday night just 6.3 miles away from McGlinchey’s favorite Philly cheesesteak spot, Dalessandro’s.

Instead, the Notre Dame offensive tackle was playing the waiting game vicariously through former teammate, quarterback DeShone Kizer, through a wildly entertaining, hairpin-curvy first round of the NFL Draft.

Three quarterbacks went in the first 12 picks Thursday night, with all three drafting teams trading up to get them.

The Chicago Bears were the first to move up, flipping third- and fourth-round picks in this draft and a third-rounder in 2018 for the right to flip-flop the Nos. 2 and 3 picks with the San Francisco 49ers.

They selected North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky.

Kansas City then jumped 17 spots to No. 10 in a trade with Buffalo to take Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes II from Texas Tech. And Houston swapped for Cleveland’s No. 12 pick in the first round to nab Clemson QB Deshaun Watson.

But after New Orleans closed the first round with pick No. 32, Kizer — the first redshirt sophomore ever from ND to enter the draft — was still in play to be quarterback No. 4 taken in the draft.

The draft continues Friday night at 7 EDT (NFL Network and ESPN/ESPN2) with rounds 2-3. Rounds 4 through 7 play out on Saturday, beginning at noon.

Irish defensive linemen Isaac Rochell and Jarron Jones are both expected to be selected sometime on Saturday. Linebacker James Onwualu has an outside chance to join them.

Offensive linemen were not in high demand Thursday night. In fact, for the first time since 1967 not one of them went among the first 15 picks. Utah offensive tackle Garrett Bolles finally broke the drought Thursday night, when the Denver Broncos selected him with pick No. 20.

McGlinchey could have been the top tackle prospect in this draft, but chose to return to Notre Dame for a fifth season and captain what he believes with be a renaissance Irish team.

“I think it’s just the matter of whether or not you were ready,” McGlinchey said recently when asked if he had any second thoughts about staying. “To be a successful athlete, you have to be able to look at yourself in the mirror, look at you on the film and be real and understand what you can see and what you need to improve.

“The way you have to approach it and the way I approached it all offseason is identifying and being true to what I see on the film. As long as I stick to that, I think I’ll be OK. I certainly felt really, really good about coming back to Notre Dame.

“We’ve got the right guys in this building — great teammates, great coaches And personally I think I’m making the right strides to becoming what I want to be which is to be a great pro player. I wanted to make sure I was ready and prepared to do that, because the NFL is a completely different animal.”

Analyst Scott Wright, of draftcountdown.com, says McGlinchey and Notre Dame left guard Quenton Nelson will enter the evaluation phase of the 2018 draft as the top prospects at their respective positions.

“McGlinchey just needs to clean up some of the little things, some of the mental errors and the technique stuff,” Wright said, “but he’s got early first-round ability.

“And Quenton Nelson, he probably would have been my No. 2 guard in this class, behind Forrest Lamp of Western Kentucky. In 2018, Nelson is going to be a first-round pick. So those two, McGlinchey and Nelson, stand out in Notre Dame’s next draft class.”

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly’s advice was for Kizer to be part of that 2018 class as well, that another year of college football would prepare him to be an NFL starter. But once Kizer made his decision to go, Kelly threw his support behind the Toledo, Ohio product.

In fact, Kelly flew to Philadelphia to be with Kizer — one of 22 prospects who attended the draft in person.

When Kizer is drafted, he’ll be all-time draft pick No. 493, No. 2 all-time behind only USC (494), which saw cornerback Adoree’ Jackson go 18th Thursday night to the Tennessee Titans.

“I don’t think there’s any question, another year of college could have answered a lot of these questions,” Wright said. “But there’s a lot to like about DeShone Kizer.”

2017 NFL Draft

WHEN: Rounds 2-3 at 7 p.m., Friday; Rounds 4-7 at noon, Saturday.

WHERE: Philadelphia Museum of Art at Eakins Oval, Philadelphia.

TV: Friday: ESPN 7-8 p.m., ESPN2 after 8 p.m., NFL Network; Saturday: ESPN, NFL Network.

LIVE STREAM: WatchESPN, NFL.com.

ND DRAFT HOPEFULS: QB DeShone Kizer, DL Jarron Jones, DL Isaac Rochell, LB James Onwualu, LS Scott Daly, RB Tarean Folston, CB Cole Luke, S Avery Sebastian, TE Chase Hounshell.

Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey (68) got to play the waiting game, sort of, along with his former teammate, quarterback DeShone Kizer (14) during the NFL Draft's first round. (Tribune Photo/BECKY MALEWITZ)