Jan 2, 2015; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes offensive lineman Brandon Scherff (68) before the start of the 2015 TaxSlayer Bowl against the Tennessee Volunteers at EverBank Field. The Tennessee Volunteers beat the Iowa Hawkeyes 45-28. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports
You’ve heard the speculation and pre-draft hype that head coach Chip Kelly is so enamored with Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota that he’s willing to completely sell-out for his former QB. While the rumors of Kelly’s fondness for the read-option style Mariota may be true or false, one thing for certain is that it will be difficult for the Philadelphia Eagles to find a sure-fire rookie starter at the number 20 position in this year’s draft. I’m not saying that it’s impossible to find blue-chip guys late in the draft, but the odds are stacked against teams. That is why I believe Chip Kelly needs to trade up in the 2015 draft for offensive line prospect Brandon Scherff.
The story goes the Eagles wanted a pass rusher in 2014. However, their top graded players were gone by the time their number 22 pick came up. Philadelphia then traded back four spots, but feared there would be a run on pass rushers at the end of the first round, so they reached to draft linebacker Marcus Smith. The result of the pick is that while it is early to call Smith a bust, I think it’s safe to say he underperformed in 2014. Ironically, the Eagles could very easily find themselves in the same challenging situation this year drafting at the number 20 spot, which is why again I believe they need to make a move up to get the best offensive lineman in the draft, Scherff.
I wrote in this article a few weeks back that throughout my 30+ years of watching the NFC East, one thing that has been consistent about winning what I believe to be the toughest division in the NFL is that a team must have solid offensive line play. The NFC East champions almost always have a superior offensive line. In going back to the state of Philadelphia’s offensive line, it is very clear to me that the Eagles do not have a line to win the East. Kelly already dumped guard Todd Herremans, and if he trades away guard Evan Mathis as rumors indicate, the team will be at least two guards away from a top quality o-line. Chip has to realize that the Beast (NFC East) is won through the offensive and defensive lines, and Scherff would be an immediate upgrade over both projected starting guards Allen Barbre and Mathis.
The 6-foot-5, 319-pound former University of Iowa offensive lineman was a unanimous All-American and was awarded the Outland Trophy in 2014. Scherff is a gifted athlete also winning multiple awards for Denison High School’s Track & Field team while playing basketball, baseball, and starting at quarterback his sophomore year. Brandon didn’t disappoint at the NFL Combine running the fourth best 40-yard dash time at 5.05 seconds, while also demonstrating strength bench-pressing 225 pounds 23 times. Most NFL scouts believe that he could be a good left tackle or a great right tackle or guard. In my opinion, Scherff’s combination of power and speed makes him a perfect fit for Kelly’s zone blocking scheme.
The Eagles would need to trade up in the draft, probably as high as the 15th spot to have a chance at Scherff. If he fell that far, Kelly would do well to grab him. If the DeMarco Murray experiment is going to work out for Philadelphia; the north-south rusher is going to need running lanes up the gut of opposing defensive lines. With a player like Sherff paired next to center Jason Kelce, Murray could have those rushing lanes, and perhaps some of “Poker” Chip’s gambles will finally pay off.