Iowa's Ferentz sees a lot of Ravens' Yanda in Scherff

Rick Brown

CHICAGO – Brandon Scherff never paid much attention to the NFL Draft until 2010.

That was when Iowa's Bryan Bulaga was selected by the Green Bay Packers in the first round.

"I've watched it ever since," Scherff said.

On Thursday, Scherff lived it. He was inside Auditorium Theatre at Roosevelt University in Chicago when the Washington Redskins selected him with the fifth pick of the 2015 NFL Draft.

Scherff, a five-sport athlete at Denison High School who committed to Iowa three months after watching Bulaga get drafted by the Packers, is Iowa's fourth offensive tackle selected in the first round since 2004.

But it's a third-round pick, Marshal Yanda, who Scherff has tried to pattern his game after. The two have worked out together this spring in Iowa strength coach Chris Doyle's weight room. Scherff quizzed Yanda about life in the NFL.

"He said to just take it in and try to improve each day," Scherff said. "It was awesome to work with him in the weight room and see how he tries to improve even though he's what, 30 years old? He's got his little aches and pains. But he's pushing through it. And he's a heck of a football player."

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz sees a lot of Yanda, a four-time Pro Bowler, in Scherff.

"There are a lot of parallels," Ferentz said. "More about the way they think and the way they work, the way they act, the kind of teammates they are. Their personalities are a lot alike."

Ferentz has been told by NFL people that Yanda is the best offensive lineman in the NFL.

"So he's really good at what he does, in terms of his job description," Ferentz said. "But I always felt the thing that makes Marshal so special is what he adds to a football team, whether it's the offensive line group, or the offensive team, or the entire team. Just the example he sets. Not by the speeches he gives but just the way he goes about things."

Ferentz said he's seen many of those characteristics in Scherff, who passed on the NFL a year ago to return to college with the goal of becoming the best lineman in college football. Scherff was rewarded for that decision by improving his NFL stock and winning the Outland Trophy, which goes to the nation's top offensive lineman.

Ferentz said the fact that Scherff had knee surgery on a Tuesday and played that following Saturday gives a glimpse inside what makes his all-American tick.

"Not all guys show that determination or mental toughness," Ferentz said. "When you get a guy who does that, that's a pretty powerful force for a football team."

Ferentz sees that same team-first attitude in Yanda.

"To me, when Baltimore pays Marshal Yanda, they pay not only to block well, but it's the other things. That's why they're such a good organization. They reward that."