Besides being part of the resurgence of Washington football beginning his redshirt freshman season in 2015, Kaleb McGary is by now known to Washington fans as a recipient of a heck of a lot of bad luck and an attitude that’s persevered through it all. The final product has been a pillar of Washington’s offense, an integral part of the kick-starting of the Chris Petersen era, and a player whose pure athleticism has entertained Dawg fans for four years. Plus, a guy you have to root for.
Whether you’re a Washington fan who’s familiar, or someone wondering whether your NFL team will pick him up, here’s some thoughts on Kaleb McGary:
The number one thing about McGary is of course his freak physical athleticism for someone roughly the size of a small house.
He’s an imperfect offensive lineman with physical and mental strength that frequently intrigue NFL teams. Among those is the aforementioned agility for his size, which makes sense if you look at him; unlike most college offensive linemen, who tend to look a bit *ahem* pudgy, even the most untrained eye can look at McGary and realize he has little wasted weight. (Coincidentally, one of the other most impressive players in this regard comes from Pullman via WSU OT Andre Dillard.)
One of his biggest weaknesses, however, come in spite of — or perhaps because of, given his height — his physical impressiveness. His footwork and reaction speed lags behind his athleticism, meaning he had a difficult time with edge rushers that had a quick first step, especially those who lined up particularly wide (say, 5 Tech and further). Tangentially related, he typically doesn’t play low enough. This negatively affects his pad level in run blocking, and means he can get off-balance against a pass rusher with either a good bull rush or speed move feigning outside-to-in (and vice versa).
On the other hand, when McGary does make first contact, his punch can absolutely destroy defensive players. Adding insult to injury to his victims in these cases, he will completely finish through the whistle and make opponents look like a fool. In the end — while it might sound corny or cliche — despite his shortcomings in technique which will require work from whichever NFL team picks him up, McGary has remarkable strength both mentally and physically. He has not just played but improved through insane adversity, and it appears to have shaped his perseverance and grit on the field. Is that corny? Yeah. But heck, it’s true. And, beyond that just making him a feel good story, does imply that he’s more likely than most “project”-type players to actually reach his potential rather than remain a crazy athlete first and football player second who doesn’t improve his weaknesses.
McGary’s draft outlook is interesting simply because his potential draft number ranges so much. On one hand, he’s been talking to a new team seemingly every day who’s interested in him. On the other, quite a few draft analysts have him as a lower value than what actual NFL teams seem to think of him. (Then again, plenty of “draft analysts” epitomize the armchair quarterback, but it’s still a pretty constant theme.)
His athleticism and strength are a huge selling point, which means, of course, that his combine performance upped his stock a bit. Furthermore, his trouble with speed off the edge means he could be drafted with the intention of moving inside, although that brings his 6’7” height into the equation since that’s taller than typical for a guard.
Overall, I’ve seen him projected anywhere from the 1st round, all the way to the 5th. Realistically, he’s probably not polished enough to break into day one — although there’s a possibility that the highest-valued tackles are taken early and, by the time the latter half of the first round is up, other linemen-needy teams want to secure a promising prospect. Barring that scenario, his physical gifts combined with a proven tough mentality backing up his potential will likely prevent him from sliding.
Most likely, I’d say he’ll probably end up taken in the 2nd round, maybe 3rd.
Washington's Kaleb McGary (58) and K-State's Dalton Risner (71) have had a really good week. Flashed that nasty demeanor clubs like in OLs. McGary can really move his feet for a 325-pound guy. #SeniorBowl pic.twitter.com/c7RYkRfd55— Chase Goodbread (@ChaseGoodbread) January 25, 2019
Ferguson not finding success against Kaleb McGary pic.twitter.com/8Uwc7Ruyjx— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) January 22, 2019
As always, do good things, don’t do bad things, and bow down to Washington.