On Jan. 2 of this year, Penn State offensive lineman Connor McGovern announced he was giving up his final year of collegiate eligibility to enter the 2019 NFL Draft. As it turns out, that decision had its roots in something that happened in January of 2016.
Back then, McGovern was one of four true freshmen who graduated from high school early so they could enroll at Penn State for the 2016 spring semester. That became not only a springboard for McGovern’s playing career — allowing him to emerge as a rare first-year starter on the offensive line — it also got things rolling academically.
McGovern’s father, Jim, is the superintendent of the Lake-Lehman (Pa.) School District, so obviously the family takes education very seriously. And the younger McGovern now admits that without the head start in the class room at PSU, he more than likely would have been returning for his senior season.
“Very important,” he said when asked about the impact education had on his NFL decision. “My parents made sure I would get my degree sometime very shortly. If I would have been a little farther away from graduation, that probably would have had a bigger effect (in returning).”
As it stands, McGovern still does not have his degree in agricultural business management. But he is close to earning it.
“I would have graduated this semester, so I’ll graduate in the summer now — online,” he explained. “I’m only 19 credits away from graduation. … I only have one major class and a math. Everything else is gen ed. So it’s pretty easy to get done in the summer.”
McGovern took off this semester so he could train, and then compete in the NFL Combine and later Penn State’s March 19 Pro Day. That was all in anticipation of the NFL Draft, which will take place April 25-27 in Nashville.
After Pro Day, the grind of trying to impress scouts on the field was finally complete. McGovern’s plans were simple.
“Working out here at Penn State,” he said. “Then wherever I get flown out to, whatever meetings I have, I’ll take care of that.”
Mock drafts have McGovern being anything from a second- to fourth-round pick. He gets the sense it will be the former as opposed to the latter. Why?
“I think my versatility is a big factor for it, and just how I’m able to play all five positions and do it well — especially the interior three,” he said.
He’s going to find out soon enough. McGovern plans to have a draft party with his extended family at a bar near his hometown of Larksville, Pa.
“I think that’s gonna be a very hectic and chaotic time, but a great day in my life — one of the best moments, I think,” he said.
And one that will stem in part from his decision to enroll early at Penn State back in January of 2016.
Connor McGovern was a 4-star prospect from Lehman, Pennsylvania. He was very familiar with the Penn State program and took multiple visits to the school during his recruitment journey. However McGovern was really interested in playing for North Carolina. He really liked the program and with it came down to chose between the Tar Heels and the Nittany Lions McGovern chose the latter because of the shorter commute from his home town. He got to work right away in State College and was bar none Penn State’s best offensive lineman over the past two seasons. He has starting experience at center which he started all 13 games at the position during his sophomore season and right guard which he played this year. He has a tough and competitive demeanor and is considered a pro ready option at either center or guard in the NFL. McGovern confirmed what you saw on tap with his numbers at the combine and even surprised people with his agility and explosion tests. He ought to have teams of all types of blocking schemes interested in him if they need help on their interior OL.
Good size, strength, athleticism, and length for the position. Plays with a nice wide base and light feet in pass protection. Short area quickness and agility allow him to keep up with speed while his lower body technique helps him handle power through the rep. He plays with solid arm extension and can lock up guys keeping them at bay with his length and strength. Plays with good awareness and knows when to pass off rushers to his teammates to take care of more immediate threats. Moves well maintaining the pocket and that explosion and power shows itself off the snap when he’s asked to perform power blocks. Athleticism shows itself when he’s asked to pull and seal as well and work to the second level. Position versatility with experience playing guard and center. Can have trouble maintaining hand placement and leverage when asked to maintain blocks downfield. He relies too much on his upper body in space to maintain control and can get thrown off balance. Will revert to lunging and bending instead of resetting his base and using his feet when beat by speed. He can overcompensate his recovery and open up holes in the pocket for second wave rushers to come through. Lacks overwhelming power in space due to the above if he can correct some technique and angle issues he’s going to be a force.
I was out of the country last week but I couldn’t get away from reading Hogs Haven. McGovern is mentioned as an option for the Redskins in the 3rd round to fix their longstanding left guard issues. McGovern is ready to play now. Front offices like his size and power and that he is ready to go on day one. Sorry to burst bubbles but all of the starting guards are going to be gone by end of round two. If the Redskins want a day one ready player like McGovern who doesn’t need to add weight or work out in the weight room they are going to have to spend a second round pick. This may not surprise some of you if you look at where the majority of starting guards have been taken in the draft the last few years who did need that type of development to get on the field in their first season. How does he fit? He would be an asset in the Redskins power run scheme. This is an area he shines in because of his blend of power and athleticism. He would also improve the line in pass protection and playing between Trent Williams and Chase Roullier he ought to shine with that kind of support. He also gives the Redskins flexibility with his position versatility and he has been healthy and is still very young. He ought to earn a second contract with the team that drafts him. Will it be the Redskins?