Friday, March 20, 2015

2015 NFL Draft #44 - Brandon Scherff, T/G, Iowa

I have never been a scout or a NFL General Manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football. By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better. It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can. Find all the profiles here.
Brandon Scherff, T/G, Iowa - 6'5, 319 - RS Senior - 5.05 40
 Iowa offensive lineman Brandon Scherff stands on the field during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Wisconsin, Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Iowa offensive lineman Brandon Scherff stands on the field during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Wisconsin, Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Every draft season, one of our traditions is debates about offensive linemen and their projections to a given home.  Can this college kid who played left tackle the whole way through his schooling play left tackle at the top level of football?  Or is he more of a right tackle.  Or is he more of a guard?  We say this because of comparables, usually, which look at the average arm length of a player or the quickness or the size or, hopefully, the tape.
Scherff is under this scrutiny, this year, because while he has the traits of some measurables where he scores quite well: Massive hands, and a great 40 time, he also does not have long arms and that is a concern to close off the edge against the athletic edge rushers he will see on Sundays.  To examine his attributes closer, I looked at many games, but Indiana, Iowa State, Wisconsin, and Maryland, in particular, got closer treatments.
What I liked:  He is a beast.  He just simply battles with the disposition you want your offensive linemen to have - a flat-out bully.  He is looking to demoralize his man by landing on top of him or driving him out of bounds as often as possible.  He is off the charts as a run blocker, but we know that in the NFL, the big questions are going to be his pass protection.  There, he looks very free and easy and often times bored with how simple his job is.  So much so, that against certain opponents, it appeared they just stopped sending guys from his side.  He looks very calm and comfortable in his body and moves with great fluidity all over.  I think he is a prototypical Iowa offensive linemen who isn't rattled by much and just doing his job which relies on his strength as his calling card.
What I did not like:  At first, I thought those that wanted to make him a guard were being unfair, but the more I watched, the more I did see that sometimes in space, the quicker, more elite rushers can make him look awkward.  He can recover with his feet, but not so much with his arm length and you can see that he may have a ceiling as a left tackle for sure.  I saw him put on roller skates a few times moving backwards into the pocket and from that standpoint, the Zach Martin comparisons are more telling (Maryland) where maybe this is an elite guard but more of an ordinary tackle in the NFL.  Don't get me wrong, there will be games where he will have no trouble at all, but those top-shelf rushers might be no match for him at just the wrong time.  This is why 3-5 games must be watched.  You need to see his best and worst.  He hides his worst most of the time.  Then, it is exposed in space.
Summary:  I think Scherff is the best OL prospect I have seen in 2015 and it may not be real close.  Demeanor, strength, and agility are all through the roof.  I can't swear he is a left tackle, but he is going to be a "butt-kicker" at some position for the next 10 years, I am sure of that.  He is versatile and he is smart.  He is competitive, and he wants to bully your side.  We saw in Dallas this year the value of the overall attitude and spirit of an offensive line as a unit and when you go invest in Scherff, you can feel pretty solid that you are turning that department of your team over to his talent level as a foundation piece.  I really think that when you look at 1st round picks, we must consider the floor and the ceiling.  I think his floor is higher than just about any prospect in this draft, and while the ceiling may not be as high, if you are looking for "bust proof" and getting a real solid starter as the absolute worse-case scenario, I think I would rubber stamp an investment in this player.  He is very solid and could play any of 4 OL positions.  I might consider him a slightly better version of Zack Martin, although I think there are many who would say just the opposite.  Either way, that puts him (partly due to Martin's rookie year) into the top half of Round 1.

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