Iowa's all-American tackle goes with 5th pick to Redskins Rick Brown/The Register
CHICAGO – Brandon Scherff passed on the 2014 NFL Draft to return to Iowa for his senior season.
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. called Scherff a first-round pick and the top run blocker available in the draft. But Scherff had made up his mind to stay in college before the final regular-season game at Nebraska. He kept that a secret until telling Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz about the decision on Dec. 8, 2013.
"He made it for the right reasons," Ferentz said. "He just wants to be a great player at Iowa."
It was a decision that has turned out handsomely. Scherff was named the Big Ten's offensive lineman of the year as a senior. He won the Outland Trophy that goes to the nation's best interior lineman. He became the Hawkeyes' 21st consensus all-American. And Thursday, he became the fifth player in the history of Iowa football to get drafted in the top five.
"I set goals for myself that (offensive line coach) Brian Ferentz and coach (Reese) Morgan told me to set for myself, and I accomplished some of those and I'm happy," Scherff said. "It's time to set some new goals for myself now, and try to reach those."
ON SALE NOW. Scherff's Washington Redskins jersey is already on sale at nflshop.com. Scherff's authentic No. 68 jersey goes for $149.95. A No. 1 jersey, signifying his top draft selection, is available for $99.95.
BIG TEN PRIDE. Scherff was the first lineman selected Thursday, something he was proud of.
"It means the world to me," Scherff said. "You always want to be at the top of the top. That was a goal for myself, to do that."
Scherff was also the first player selected from the Big Ten. He was later joined by Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes, who went to Minnesota with the 11th pick, and Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon, who went to San Diego with the 15th pick.
"There's some pride in being the first one from the Big Ten," Scherff said. "Just hearing your name called is a big old weight lifted off your shoulders."
Over the past six drafts, Wisconsin has now had five players selected in the first round. Iowa is second in the league, with four (Scherff; Riley Reiff, 2012; Adrian Clayborn, 2011; Bryan Bulaga, 2010).
FISH, BEWARE. Scherff is an outdoor enthusiast. And he'll be going far from his native Midwest, where he loved to fish and hunt. He doesn't plan to give up in his hobby. Not many pheasants in Washington, D.C., a media member said to Scherff.
"I'm into deep sea fishing," Scherff said. "That will work."
OH, BROTHER. Former Super Bowl champion coach turned ESPN guru Jon Gruden raved about Scherff before the draft. Scherff was included on Gruden's list of his favorite 15 players in the NFL Draft.
Gruden's brother, Jay, is entering his second season as the Washington Redskins' head coach. When they selected Scherff on Thursday, Jon Gruden could hardly contain himself.
"This pick makes we want to coach again," Jon Gruden said on ESPN's telecast of the draft.
Mike Mayock of the NFL Network also liked the Redskins' pick.
"He can play right tackle or he can kick inside," Mayock said. "He makes them stronger. He makes them more athletic. And the beauty is he can play anywhere."
Iowa's Scherff grew up a Vikings fan Rick Brown/The Des Moines Register