Jan 2, 2015; Jacksonville, FL, USA; IIowa Hawkeyes offensive lineman Brandon Scherff (68) before the start of their game against theTennessee Volunteers in the 2015 TaxSlayer Bowl at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports
After reading Seth Wickersham’s excellent article, The Far Sideline, on Scot McCloughan and watching the Washington Redskins beaten soundly by the St.Louis Rams, I was inspired to write the Redskins Offseason: 6 Things That Need to Happen post. With McCloughan in mind, the first step was to hire a real football man. To my surprise, Bruce Allen did just that in January and hired the best man available for the job.
McCloughan has set forth on his plan to rebuild the Redskins with an emphasis on toughness and size in the NFL draft. His vision gives the average fan faith that the Redskins have someone in charge that will do a better job than what we have seen over the past 15 or more seasons. McCloughan’s first selection in the draft was offensive tackle, Brandon Scherff.
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I was a little shocked that Scherff was the choice with top-rated prospect, Leonard Williams, still available. The choice of an offensive lineman however was a long-awaited prize for most Redskins fans including myself. I still have reservations about Scherff’s ability in pass protection though.
I went back and studied a few of Scherff’s games at Iowa over the past two years. I expected that my mind would be changed on Scherff’s pass protection issues playing left tackle. After re-watching those games, I see many of the same issues that led me to rank Scherff as the 14th best player in the draft.
Scherff is a devastating run blocker
Scherff is a devastating run blocker. He often takes the player he is blocking completely out of the play. The only real hole I see in him as a run blocker is when he gets too aggressive and misses blocks now and then. He can have problems changing direction when he is intent on making a certain block.
When going forward, Scherff can be an unstoppable juggernaut with good foot speed for a big man. His kick-slide is good enough also but not nearly as effective as his drive blocking. Scherff’s biggest problems come when he is forced to move backward.
Whether it is a back pedal issue or a balance problem, Scherff will need to get much better at stopping the bull rush
When his opponent is able to get into his body and bull rush him, Scherff tends to lose his balance. He gets stood up at times and is unable to re-set his feet quick enough to regain leverage. Scherff had a lot of problems in the game versus Maryland in 2014 but I saw this defect in every game I watched of his.
Whether it is a back pedal issue or a balance problem, Scherff will need to get much better at stopping the bull rush or he will have trouble with NFL edge rushers playing outside at offensive tackle. Interestingly, Scherff was very effective in pass protection when he fired into the defender first as he would in a run play and used his strength to gain good leverage.
Luckily for Scherff, the Redskins hired Bill Callahan to coach the offensive line. With Callahan to tutor Scherff, he may be able to correct his flaws in pass protection and weaknesses to the bull rush. If he doesn’t correct them, Scherff may face a move inside to guard. Scherff could be an immediate pro-bowl level player if he is moved inside although the Redskins would prefer that he solidify the right tackle spot for them.