Notre Dame's Quenton Nelson, Mike McGlinchey Drive One Another With Fierce Determination

The two offensive linemen project to be drafted in the first round.

Chris Emma
March 22, 2018 - 2:21 pm
Notre Dame's Quenton Nelson, left, and Mike McGlinchey, right

Kevin Jairaj/USA Today Sports


By Chris Emma--

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (670 The Score) -- Notre Dame tight end Durham Smythe shuffled his feet in a backpedal as guard Quenton Nelson, a monster of a man, drove through the blocking pad he grasped.

Scouts and executives from around the NFL -- from Bears assistant director of college scouting Jeff Shiver to current Falcons scout and former Bears general manager Phil Emery -- were gathered around the circle and watching as Nelson further proved his overpowering strength and size at Notre Dame's pro day Thursday.

"Bring more resistence!" shouted Eagles offensive line coach Eugene Chung, who was running the drill.

Just a few yards away stood Mike McGlinchey, the senior tackle at Notre Dame who will also be drafted in the first round come late April. He and Nelson earned All-American honors together and followed the same path to dominance on the offensive line.

Both Nelson and McGlinchey arrived at Notre Dame as raw but promising players and developed into special college blockers. With the help of coach Harry Hiestand, recently tabbed to be the Bears' offensive linemen, they earned their place high atop draft boards.

Behind the rise of Nelson and McGlinchey is a determined demeanor they share.

"There's something to learn and improve on every single day," McGlinchey said. "The two of us have had that mindset since we got here and will continue to have that. Just keep climbing that ladder and getting better."

Added Nelson: "We're still young and ready to keep on learning."

Notre Dame running back Josh Adams, who garnered some Heisman Trophy attention last season, wasn't afraid to declare that Nelson and McGlinchey are "the best linemen in the country." Adams rushed for 1,430 yards while averaging 6.9 per carry last season.

Offensive linemen don't typically have numbers to back their dominance, but the work of Adams is a credit to the two blockers opening truck-size holes in the B gap. The massive Joe Moore Award -- given to the nation's top offensive line -- is parked outside the Loftus Sports Center at Notre Dame as proof to what the film shows.

Nelson has earned universal praise by piling through defensive linemen and running them into the ground like they're nothing. Scouts haven't been afraid to say he will be a Pro Bowl player in 2018 and many years beyond. 

Nelson was quick to point toward the "immature" kid he was as a freshman at Notre Dame and how he evolved into a man and a menace on the field in time. Improving technique is now his goal a month out from the NFL Draft.

"I can grow a lot," Nelson said. "I've been developed into a great player. There are still things I need to work on. Especially with my consistency in everything I do, and every little movement, every little coaching point and technique, I can improve on immensely, and I look forward to doing that working up to the draft and all the way through my career."

While Nelson is short with his words, McGlinchey is an outgoing personality. But the two are best of friends off the field and a great tandem of training partners. They will continue to drive each other right up until the draft and into the league. 

McGlinchey is considered the top tackle in the class and can expect to be chosen around the middle of the first round. 

The Bears would love to see Nelson available where they're slotted with the eighth pick, though he's a candidate to go off the board before their turn. The Colts own the sixth overall pick, and general manager Chris Ballard had a private meeting with Nelson at Notre Dame on Thursday. Should the Bears elect to trade down, McGlinchey could make sense for their offensive line. 

Whichever teams land a half of Notre Dame's All-American tandem will be getting players driven to keep improving.

"That's the thing about football," McGlinchey said. "You never have it figured out. it's a game that constantly challenges you. It constantly presents new and different obstacles you have to face each and every day."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.