Brandon Scherff building block of Washington's O-line
ASHBURN, Va. – The Washington Redskins are not interested in building an offensive line on the cheap.
They understand you get what you pay for, and if they need to use first-round draft choices to get their five starters, they'll use five first-round picks.
That's one reason they selected Brandon Scherff, from Iowa, with the fifth pick overall in this spring's draft. The Redskins hope he immediately will start at right tackle.
The Redskins even want a star as the line coach. Bill Callahan, former head coach of the Oakland Raiders and Nebraska Cornhuskers and most recently offensive coordinator and offensive line coach for the Dallas Cowboys, now coaches Washington's offensive line.
Callahan was more line coach than coordinator in Dallas. His departure was not unexpected.
"He's detailed, and he's a grinder," Washington coach Jay Gruden said. "That's two things that are great qualities and our line needs.
"Every drill, every waking moment they're in this building and on the practice field, he's going to be in their ear, working them. And they're going to get better.
Whatever Callahan does, it worked for the Cowboys, who also understand outstanding offensive lines aren't inexpensive. They have three first-round picks among their five starters.
DeMarco Murray rushed for a league-leading 1,845 yards last season in Dallas, and quarterback Tony Romo was sacked an average of less than twice a game and missed just one start.
When the Redskins drafted Scherff, 6-feet-5, 325, questions immediately arose about using the fifth pick to take a right tackle who eventually might be a guard. That's not considered top value for the pick.
None of that will matter if Scherff starts for a decade and the Redskins are winning.
"There's no added motivation you have to give him on a week-to-week, play-to-play, day-to-day basis," Gruden said.
"He's out here in rookie minicamp trying his butt off, trying to finish plays, to listen and pay attention and translate what he's learning to the field."
The Redskins also drafted Arie Kouandjio, an offensive guard out of Alabama, in the fourth round and center Austin Reiter from South Florida in the seventh round.
Saturday was a learning experience for all.
Scherff got plenty of attention and handled things well. His ability is obvious.
"We're in shorts, and we're not going crazy tempo," Gruden said. "For Brandon, shorts is not what he wants. He wants the pads.
"Moving to right tackle is not a transition that's going to be immediate and easy. He's going to have to take some lumps. But the good thing about Brandon is he's a very focused individual. He studies very hard, and he takes coaching extremely well."
Right tackle is Sherff's job to lose. Where Kouandjio fits is a different matter. He's a 6-5, 310-guard out of Alabama, where the competition for playing time is fierce.
"What I learned at Alabama was mental toughness, physical toughness, making sure your body dies before your mind does," Kouandjio said. "Your body sometimes is more capable of doing way more than you (think). What I learned at Alabama is pushing through that."
What the Redskins need to learn about Kouandjio is how well his knees endure the rigors of the NFL. He's had surgery on both patella tendons.
The rookie with the memory that perhaps will last longest was Chadwick Rivers, an offensive linemen from Kentucky State invited to camp on a try-out basis.
As one group session ended, Rivers looked up from his stance to see Gruden in front of him in a three-point stance. Gruden pretended to rush the quarterback.
Rivers managed to stay in front of the head coach.
He found little to laugh about last season when he watched his offensive line. Gruden is hoping with the arrival of Scherff and company that will change.