Bad draft picks cause riots with fanbases, but good draft picks feel oh, so great. One pick we’ll be happy getting used to getting accolades is the San Francisco 49ers’ first pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, tackle Mike McGlinchey. A pick who won ESPN’s NFC West Rookie of the year.
49ers reporter Nick Wagoner broke things down:
The immediate returns on McGlinchey have been positive, particularly in the area most expected, the run game. For what it’s worth, Pro Football Focus rates McGlinchey as one of the best run-blocking tackles in the league, and the statistics are there to support it. While there have been some hiccups in pass protection, McGlinchey hasn’t backed down despite facing the likes of Aaron Donald, Khalil Mack, Von Miller, Melvin Ingram and other elite edge rushers.
McGlinchey has been a reason the 49ers run game has had so much success with so many different running backs. The one thing to consider in terms of the award is what he was up against. This isn’t NFL rookie of the year, this award is contained to the NFC West and the competition is lacking with rookies.
If you’re looking at just first round picks, the Seattle Seahawks took running back Rashaad Penny towards the end of the first round. A pick that turned out decent, averaging 4.9 yards per carry, but was second fiddle at-best on the depth chart to the likes of Chris Carson.
The Arizona Cardinals traded up for quarterback Josh Rosen, but there wasn’t much in terms of immediate impact felt. What was felt were the 45 sacks the rookie took thanks to an offensive line with so many holes a Swiss cheese would be envious. The Cardinals had huge problems on offense as a whole, and it’d be unfair and a bit too quick to point at the quarterback for the source of them.
And the Los Angeles Rams? Well they didn’t even get a pick in the first round thanks to the Brandin Cooks trade.
All that said, McGlinchey has neck in neck with Indianapolis Colts guard Quenton Nelson for the title of best offensive lineman from the 2018 draft. Nelson had an edge in pass blocking but McGlinchey’s run block all but made up for it. It’s safe to say the 49ers weren’t going to get their hands on Nelson given his positioning anyways.
Still, McGlinchey’s pass blocking hasn’t been anything atrocious, rather something he needs to work on. Not to mention his numbers took a dip due to the elite level of competition he was up against in 2018. There were whiffs, but him going against those pass rushers may work out for the best in the long run.
It isn’t just ESPN. At one point, McGlinchey was considered a dark horse for NFL rookie of the year. It’s doubtful that would happen, but when expand from just the NFC West and see McGlinchey is at least in the conversation, you know this isn’t just from lack of competition.
If he can get the pass blocking figured out, and there’s no doubt yet he can, the 49ers will have an anchor and a great leader for the locker room once Joe Staley hangs it up.