2019 Notre Dame Football Preview

Digital Edition

Blue & Gold Illustrated: 2019 Notre Dame Football Preview

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Page 139 of 163

138 ✦ BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED 2019 FOOTBALL PREVIEW BY DAVID MCKINNEY F ormer Notre Dame offensive line- men Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey were highly thought of by the NFL entering their rookie campaigns in 2018. Nelson, the 2017 Irish team MVP, was drafted No. 6 overall by the Indianapolis Colts, making him the highest-picked offen- sive guard since North Carolina's Ken Huff in 1975 (Northwestern's Chris Hinton at No. 4 in 1983, Pittsburgh's Bill Fralic at No. 2 in 1985, Virginia's Jim Dombrowski at No. 6 in 1986 and Texas' Leonard Davis at No. 2 in 2001 all played offensive tackle in college, but spent time at offensive guard in the NFL). McGlinchey went just three picks later, No. 9 to the San Francisco 49ers, to mark the first time in 27 years — and just the third time ever — the first two offensive linemen to come off the board attended the same school. Neither player disappointed once they got on the field. Nelson was Indianapolis' starting left guard from the first day of offseason work and was the only Colt to be on the field for all 1,136 offensive snaps. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), he finished his rookie season with an overall grade of 74.3 and a pass- blocking grade of 81.9, good for sixth and 13th, respectively, among all guards last year. "He'll be a key cog in the ever-evolving Colts machine for years to come," PFF noted, while listing their highest-rated rookie line- man among the 25 best players (no rankings) in the NFL under the age of 25. PFF noted that the 6-5, 330-pounder al- lowed just 23 pressures on 730 pass-blocking snaps in 2018, and his resulting pressure al- lowed rate of 3.4 percent ranked 12th among guards with at least 200 snaps last year. As a result, the Colts went from surrendering a league-high 56 sacks in 2017 to giving up a league-low 18 in 2018. In addition, Marlon Mack rushed for 100 yards four times — the most by a Colts run- ning back in 11 years — and Indianapolis reached the playoffs for the first time since 2014. Nelson became the first Colts offensive lineman chosen to the Pro Bowl since Jeff IRISH IN THE NFL Quenton Nelson And Mike McGlinchey Excel As Rookies Former Irish offensive lineman Quenton Nelson was named first-team All-Pro in his rookie season. PHOTO COURTESY INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

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