NEWTON, Ia. – Offensive tackles are a valued commodity in the NFL. With that in mind, Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz wasn't surprised that Brandon Scherff was gone by the fifth pick of last week's NFL Draft, or that Andrew Donnal didn't make it out of the fourth round.
"Offensive tackles are hard to find," Ferentz said before an appearance at the Jasper County I-Club on Tuesday at Iowa Speedway. "My experience is they usually get drafted a round or two higher sometimes than maybe you'd think."
Scherff, who played left tackle, became Iowa's highest-drafted player since 2004 and the seventh first-round pick of the Ferentz era when the Washington Redskins took him at No. 5. Ferentz said that Bill Callahan, Washington's new offensive line coach, is a good fit for Scherff.
"A big part of what they factored was reliability and dependability," Ferentz said of the consensus all-American and Outland Trophy winner. "It's nice to know what you're getting. You can count on Brandon every day to show up the same way, ready to go and do his best. With a first-rounder, that's really a good thing to get."
Donnal started every game at right tackle for the Hawkeyes last season. The St. Louis Rams selected him in the fourth round with the 119th overall pick.
"Most NFL people figured out what we kind of thought, that he was a really good football player," Ferentz said. "He's got versatility and is intelligent. To me, it's good value."
Iowa also had defensive tackle Carl Davis go to the Baltimore Ravens in the third round.
"I think his upside is tremendous," Ferentz said. "They've got an excellent staff. Clarence Brooks, their defensive line coach, is really good. Carl's got to go in there, work hard and learn from those veterans. He should have a good future, too."
Seven more players — defensive tackle Louis Trinca-Pasat (St. Louis), linebacker Quinton Alston (Tampa Bay), tight end Ray Hamilton (Dallas), safety John Lowdermilk (San Diego), wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley (Cleveland), wide receiver Damond Powell (Arizona) and fullback Mark Weisman (Cincinnati) — signed free-agent contracts.
"Most have mini-camps next week, and then you've got to make it to the full-scale camp," Ferentz said. "Then it's trying to stay alive every day. That's the biggest thing. In his day and age, with the salary cap, to be good and young and cheap is a good thing."