ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. released his latest mock draft (version 3.0) Thursday morning, sending Iowa Hawkeyes offensive tackle Brandon Scherff to the New Orleans Saints at pick No. 13 in the first round.
"The Saints could end up cutting one of their guards and couldn’t do any better in adding a replacement in the draft if Scherff is still available here. I’ve said before, I see Scherff as a high-floor addition on the offensive line, because even if he doesn’t stay at tackle, I think he can become a dominant guard pretty early on. The player isn’t a facsimile, but you can make a comparison to how Dallas drafted Zack Martin and moved him inside as a rookie and saw him flourish; I think the Saints can count on immediate dividends from Scherff. He’s one of the more dominant run-blocking linemen we’ve seen in the draft in the past few years, and he brings experience and the ability to take on the job like a professional right away."
While drafting a pass rusher has been the anticipated scenario in the first round, an offensive lineman is certainly not out of the question. When your quarterback is responsible for 20 giveaways in one season, some of that accountability will fall onto the shoulders of the offensive line. In the Saints’ case, the guardianship of Drew Brees was insufficient for a majority of the year in 2014.
Brandon Scherff’s upper body strength, strong hands and knee bend make him a dominant force in the running game, but it’s pass protection that the Saints really need to improve on. Scherff deals with missteps on occasion, but those can be developed to help keep Brees safe in the pocket.
The drive blocking he displays is outstanding, granting him the ability to attack, control and keep separation from his targeted rushers. Scherff boasts functional quickness and great weight shift that helps him overpower his rushers, sometimes bringing them to ground.
At 6-foot-5 and 320 pounds, Scherff owns a wide frame with surprisingly light feet, allowing him to control his momentum. While his missteps are a weakness, he still has those strong hands to lock onto his opponents while pass blocking.
Health issues have been a problem, but it seems as if he has overcome those past injuries — his scouting combine did end early however due to a minor hamstring injury.
Brandon Scherff is a special talent that will likely go far as a true anchor on an offensive line in the NFL. With Ben Grubbs and Jahri Evans in question, Drew Brees and the Saints could use that protection as soon as possible, but I see a pass rusher headed to the Big Easy via the first round of the draft.
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