2023 NFL Free Agency: OT Mike McGlinchey can be an elite run-blocking force for the Denver Broncos

Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey (69) blocks during the first quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos signed former San Francisco 49ers tackle Mike McGlinchey in 2023 NFL free agency to a five-year, $87.5 million deal. Here's everything you need to know about McGlinchey's career to date.

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After being selected as the ninth overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft out of Notre Dame, McGlinchey spent the entirety of his rookie contract with the 49ers. In five seasons in the Bay, McGlinchey displayed a mixed bag of traits, often excelling as a road-grading run blocker, yet struggling as a pass protector.

On the ground, McGlinchey proved to be a powerful presence in Kyle Shanahan’s zone-heavy scheme, earning a 70.0-plus PFF run-blocking grade in four of his five seasons. Zone blocking schemes are undoubtedly McGlinchey’s best fit, as he’s earned an elite 90.1 PFF run-blocking grade on these concepts over his career, which ranks in the 87th percentile, according to PFF’s stable run metrics. His best season came in 2020, when he earned an impressive 91.3 PFF run-blocking grade (fourth highest in the NFL), exhibiting a potentially high ceiling. The past two seasons featured a dip in McGlinchey’s run-block grading, which may be attributed to recovering from a torn quad in 2021 but should still bear monitoring moving forward. 

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Any questions about McGlinchey center on his ability in pass protection. In his five NFL campaigns, McGlinchey has never managed to exceed a season-long 70.0 PFF pass-blocking grade. According to PFF’s stable pass metrics, McGlinchey ranks in the 26th percentile in grading on true pass sets — an alarmingly low number for a full-time starting tackle. This past season, he earned a 65.4 PFF pass-block grade, which ranks 56th among offensive tackles and 22nd among right tackles.

This incapability in pass protection was on full display during the Niners' recent playoff run, during which McGlinchey gave up 10 of his 40 pressures in just the divisional and conference championship games. Most will remember Micah Parsons’ performance in the divisional round, in which he finished with five pressures against McGlinchey, including one that sent him to the turf.


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Top 200 Free Agent Rankings | 2023 NFL Free Agency Tracker
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That stark contrast between run- and pass-blocking ability could spell trouble for the Broncos if McGlinchey isn’t utilized to his strengths. Luckily for him, Denver’s recent hiring of Sean Payton should set this offense up for success and bring the most out of this offensive line. McGlinchey comes into the lineup to replace a combination of Cameron Fleming and Calvin Anderson at right tackle to protect quarterback Russell Wilson.

In past seasons in New Orleans, Payton put a premium on quality tackle play, shelling out sizable contracts to both Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk. Perhaps Payton sees similar traits in McGlinchey, which led to his signing early in the legal tampering period. 

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