Steam has been gained, at least in my eyes, towards drafting Iowa OT/G Brandon Scherff with our first pick in the first round of the 2015 NFL draft, and I'm here to explain why.
Question - Outside of left tackle Trent Williams, what have the Redskins been lacking along the offensive line?
Answer - Powerful, young, versatile, athletic offensive linemen, capable of driving opponents off the ball, and keeping our quarterback upright.
Question - When is the last time the Redskins used a number one pick on an offensive linemen, and how often has this happened in the last decade?
Answer - Trent Williams was the last offensive linemen taken in the first round by the Redskins. He was the fourth overall pick in 2010. He is the only linemen to be taken in the first round in the last decade.
Question - When the Redskins were successful back in the 80's and 90's, what were those teams built around?
Answer - The offensive line.
Question - What is this very site we are on named after?
Answer - The "Hogs" - the knickname give to the Joe Gibbs coached Redskins offensive linemen.
Iowa offensive tackle Brandon Scherff, standing at nearly 6'5" and weighing 319 pounds, is everything you look for in an offensive linemen. Size - check. Strength - check. Athleticism - check. Nastiness - check. Production - check. Durability - check. Versatility - check. Intelligence - check. Passion for the game - check. Redneck - check.
On days where he's not flipping tires, hang cleaning 480, or dissecting film of his own technique, you can find Brandon Scherff down at the end of some back-road in Iowa, with his pickup truck parked in the mud, fishing in a local farmers pond for Largemouth Bass. Country music can be heard playing from the radio, and a gallon of milk is his refreshment of choice.
Scherff grew up in a small town, and that mentality has not left the soon-to-be NFL star. During highschool, the jumbo athlete competed in five sports - football, basketball, baseball, track and tennis. Earlier in his football career, as a 280 pounder, Scherff was under center for his high school football team. He was not just some "wildcat" quarterback, who took the snap every play and looked to run right through the middle of the defense. He was asked to throw deep downfield, set up screens, and hand off to his running backs. Later on, he was moved to tight end, and finall, offensive line, where he was an unheralded 3-star recruit, who committed to Iowa.
Scherff started 36 games over 4 season for the Hawkeeys. He was mainly an offensive tackle, but did play some guard as a true freshmen. As a senior, he was considered the best college linemen in the nation, and took home the coveted Outland Trophy, given to the nation's best interior linemen.
He entered the NFL combine with much fanfare. Many considered him to be the strongest player at the event. However, he disappointed on the bench press, lifting 225 pounds just 23 times. His 40 yards dash was an impressive 5.05, with a 10 yard split of 1.78, but his testing would be cut short after he pulled a hamstring in the 40, and was a spectator for the rest of the day, missing the most important on-field drills.
Although I would have liked to see Scherff's movement skills in the drills, his time as a starter at Iowa has proven to me that he has the necessary tools to be an effective linemen in the NFL. Now, notice I use the word linemen, not specifically an offensive tackle or guard.
I have been studying his game a bit more closely over the last week, and I see certain skills that could help him stand out at either right tackle or guard. First, he has a violent hand punch that stones defenders in their path. Used effectively, this is a major weapon for interior as well as edge linemen. Second, he displays the ability, balance and strength to lower his hips, sit back in his stance, and effectively mirror a defensive linemen in pass protection. He's not a waist-bender at all. In the run game, he plays low and with good leverage, and once he gets his hands inside a defender, he is able to sustain the block through the lower half, by bringing those powerful legs and hips with him through the block. Finally, he plays with a nasty streak, finishing most of his blocks through the wistle. He's the first one to his quarterbacks aid, offering his hand to his signal caller when his back is on the grass.
Where I see him struggle a bit, and where my concern with him resides, is his kick slide. His set-up seems a bit robotic, and his feet sometimes get a little to narrow, making him succeptable to speed-rushers and good counter moves by experienced defenders. This concern is lessened a bit if he moves to right tackle in the NFL, because he'll be faced a bit more with power than pure speed. This should play into his strengths. I feel he has the ability to overcome some of these deficiencies, because of his tireless work ethic, intelligence and above average athleticism.
Overall, Scherff has the kind of well-rounded game that should make him a potential perennial Pro Bowler for years to come, either on the interior, or the edge. I'm beginning to welcome the idea of him being selected for our Washington Redskins with the fifth overall pick.
Stats and Measurables:
Arm Length: 33 3/8
Hand Size: 11
10 yard split: 1.78
Bench @ 225: 23
Hang Clean: 480
College Starts(OT/G): 36
**2014 Outland Trophy winner