INDIANAPOLIS – On Tuesday night, soon after Philadelphia native Mike McGlinchey arrived at the scouting combine, he went to a formal interview with his hometown team.
These meetings are common at the combine, and they don't necessarily foretell a prospect's eventual destination. But Eagles fans can allow for wishful thinking when it comes to one of their own. Notre Dame's McGlinchey, a Penn Charter alumnus, is rated among the top offensive tackles in the draft. That makes it unlikely that he would drop all the way to the No. 32 pick. If he did, it could be a storybook selection for the Eagles, who have an aging offensive line and have never spent a first-round pick on someone who grew up in the Philadelphia area. (Chuck Bednarik was from Bethlehem and played at Penn.)
"As strong as my ties are in the city of Philadelphia and around the area, that would be a dream-come-true situation," McGlinchey said. "Obviously, Super Bowl champs. Passionate city. Everything I do, everybody I love, is back at home in Philadelphia. Any team that would pick me would be great, but it would be pretty special to go home, too."
There's a lot to like about McGlinchey other than his area code. At 6-foot-8 and 312 pounds, he has outstanding size and athleticism for the position. A four-year starter for the Irish, McGlinchey has experience at both left tackle and right tackle on an NFL-style offensive line with a position coach who was just hired by the Chicago Bears. He's also a two-time captain who is lauded for his character and work ethic, too.
"He's one of my favorite players in the draft because I know the kid," said NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, a Philadelphia native who watched McGlinchey in high school and rated him the No. 1 tackle in the draft. "I did Notre Dame games when he was young, and I've been around him when he works out in the weight room. …He's going to be ready to play. I don't care if you put him at right tackle or left tackle, he's going to be ready to play. And, number two, his work ethic and passion for the game of football is unparalleled. So I know what I'm getting with that kid, and that's why I bang the table for him."
Mayock didn't think McGlinchey would make it to the Eagles at No. 32, but thinks McGlinchey would be a great pick if he did. The Eagles have Lane Johnson as a long-term anchor on the offensive line, although it's unclear who the other offensive tackle will be when Jason Peters retires. The plan appears to be for the 36-year-old potential Hall of Famer to return in 2018. The Eagles must think about an eventual replacement – whether it's at right tackle if Johnson slides to the left side, or left tackle if Johnson stays put.
Halapoulivaati Vaitai improved and showed promise filling in for Peters during the Eagles' Super Bowl run, but the Eagles could still look to add at offensive tackle. If they use a first-round pick at that spot, the player might not enter the starting lineup in 2018. But it could be like when the Eagles drafted cornerback Lito Sheppard in 2002 with a succession plan in mind.
Eagles fans would be able to identify with McGlinchey because he identifies with them. McGlinchey is not coy about how much his hometown has shaped him, and he spoke to reporters from around the nation as if they knew the area like someone he'd eat cheesesteaks next to at Dalessandro's.
"There's not a lot of places like Philadelphia, where you can get people that are as close, as passionate, and are willing to say whatever the hell they want right to your face," McGlinchey said. "So it's one of those things it taught me who I was. It's where my roots are. It's ingrained in my family, the way that we were raised. The competitiveness, the passion I have for this sport, and the loyalty that Eagles fans have for their team and the rest of their sports teams in Philadelphia, makes you, for the ones you're playing for, have that much loyalty, too."
Before McGlinchey developed into a top prospect, he was known for something else. McGlinchey's older cousin is Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, a fellow Penn Charter product.
"It's kind of been 'Mike McGlinchey, comma, Matt Ryan's first cousin' ever since I was in high school," McGlinchey said. "I'm very thankful for that. Matt has guided me every step of the way, whether he knew it or not."
McGlinchey watches the way Ryan handles himself and treats people. He listened to Ryan's guidance while picking a college and ascending through the football ranks. He even caught passes from Ryan during summers down the Shore in North Wildwood, although McGlinchey couldn't jump as high as Julio Jones.
McGlinchey witnessed Jones miss one of Ryan's passes at the end of the Eagles' divisional-round playoff win. Authenticity matters in Philadelphia, and McGlinchey would not offer a white lie when talking about the Eagles' Super Bowl run. He needed to jump on the bandwagon during the NFC championship game because he rooted for Ryan against the Eagles – family trumped even his hometown.
McGlinchey still appreciated the Super Bowl victory. He also enjoyed how his friends back home reveled in it.
"I was getting Snapchats and Instagram messages of people starting to drink at 3 a.m. on the streets of Broad Street," McGlinchey said. "It looked like it was a good time."