Scherff debate: Tackle or guard in the NFL?

Rick Brown

IOWA CITY, Ia. – Brandon Scherff was a consensus all-American and Outland Trophy winner at left tackle for Iowa. Where he plays in the NFL is up for debate.

Heading into Thursday's NFL Draft, some project him as a right tackle at the next level. Others see him as a guard, a position he played early in his college career.

"I could easily envision that," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said of guard. "And I could easily envision him playing tackle and playing it really well."


Brown: Scherff impresses with humble approach to life

Seven Iowa collegians in SI's Top 300 NFL Draft pick list

NFL scouts and front-office personnel have beaten a path to Ferentz's office door, looking for faults in Scherff's game and personality. One general manager, who has a high draft pick, visited earlier this month.

"And he said, 'If he's sitting here looking us in the face, tell me why I shouldn't draft him,' " Ferentz said. "I said, 'Well, I can't think of anything. That's for you guys to figure out.' His point was it all looks almost too good to be true. Maybe a third-grade teacher got mad at him or something, I don't know."

One knock on Scherff is that he has short arms for a left tackle. Greg Gabriel, a former director of college scouting for the Chicago Bears, an NFL scout for 30 years and now a writer for the National Football Post, thinks Scherff could be a starter from day one. But not at left tackle.

"I think he's a right tackle or guard," Gabriel said. "I don't think he's great in space. In some of the games I watched, when he tried to get to the second level, he wasn't great at adjusting on the move. Sometimes he missed trying to hit a linebacker in space. In saying that, he's such a good technician that it wouldn't shock me if he played well at left tackle in the league."

Former NFL coach turned ESPN analyst Jon Gruden listed Scherff as one of his 15 favorite players in the draft in a story posted this week on

"What is Scherff going to be?" Gruden said. "Who cares! If you take him, he is probably going to be your best left tackle. If you move him to guard, he'll be your best guard. If you play him at right tackle, he will be your best right tackle."

Former Iowa player Marshal Yanda is considered by many the best offensive lineman in the NFL. A third-round pick in 2007, Yanda plays guard for the Baltimore Ravens. But he's also been used at tackle.

"To me, he was the prototypical NFL guard, and yet he's played at tackle for them," Ferentz said. "I've seen him on tape block James Harrison from the Steelers. That's their archrival, their nemesis, and Harrison is the poster guy for their defensive football team in recent years. I think Marshal just gets it done because he's so determined. Brandon shares that, and I think he's better suited to play tackle than Marshal."

Gabriel was scouting for the New York Giants when that franchise took offensive tackles Eric Moore of Indiana in the first round and Jumbo Elliott of Michigan in the second round.

"Moore was your prototypical left tackle," Gabriel said. "Athletic, great bend, long arms, just what you're looking for. We drafted Elliott to be a right tackle. But after six weeks, we flip-flopped them. Elliott became an All-Pro because he understood angles, knew how to use his hands. He moved well in a limited area. And you weren't going to get around him. Scherff could be the same way."