Following two drafts that were dominated by offensive tackles at the top of the first round, 2015 seems to be a down year for offensive lineman (at least "elite" offensive lineman). In 2013, three of the top four picks were offensive tackles, and in 2014, two more were taken in the top six picks.
In 2015, however, only Brandon Scherff from Iowa seems to be in a position to be selected somewhere in the top 10. With a soon-to-be 32-year-old Donald Penn at left tackle and uncertainty at right tackle, could the Oakland Raiders target Scherff?
Let's see what our writers had to say...
If there's one thing we know for sure about Reggie McKenzie, it's that he values an offensive line — having made the biggest splash in each of the past two off-seasons along the offensive line with $30 million going to Austin Howard and $45 million to Rodney Hudson.
Heading into the 2015 season, the Raiders line appears to be mostly set, but long-term there could be a couple of holes. At almost 32, Donald Penn is set to be a free agent after this season, and without a sure-fire solution at left tackle beyond that, the prospect of drafting Scherff is certainly intriguing. Of course, there's also the question mark at right guard as well.
The downside to Scherff, however, is that some folks project him as playing somewhere along the right side of the line long term, which means it would be tough to justify spending the No. 4 pick on him. If the Raiders traded back and could add him in the middle of the first round, I could see there being some interest, but ultimately I think the team has far more pressing needs at wide receiver and on defense.
Scherff is widely viewed as the best offensive tackle in the 2015 NFL Draft and is a top-15 talent. But the Raiders simply have much bigger needs such as wide receiver and defensive end that they need to address. Donald Penn had a solid season last year and Austin Howard is projected to move to right tackle, where he is more comfortable.
Even though Penn is in the final season of his contract, the Raiders still have Menelik Watson. Mike Tice is one of the most respected offensive line coaches in the NFL and may be able to bring out Watson's potential. If he can't, then offensive tackle will become a priority for next season. But for now, the Raiders need to go after a top wide receiver or defensive end.
Because I love watching great football, I almost never watch the Iowa Hawkeyes play it. Coach Kirk Ferentz has done for Iowa football what the missionary position has done for sex — turn an otherwise exciting experience into a ritual to be gone through without passion or creativity. Every now and again, however, a really good player will make his way through the Iowa program and light up the next level. When I can think of someone like that, I will let you know.
Brandon Scherff is essentially Mike Iupati without any of his cool Samoa-ness, or James Carpernter without the dreads. Scherff looks like Paul Bunyan and could probably deadlift Babe the Blue Ox. He is an average pass blocker at best and does not control rushers, preferring instead to pancake them outright. He relies on his ridiculous strength to dominate, rather than keeping his legs going and finishing the play through — especially on second-level blocks. This sort of deficiency will not do at tackle, so Scherff is best suited for guard. Think Robert Gallery in that sense. Scherff will, however, destroy anyone in run blocking.
If Oakland wants to run a power rush game and shove the ball down the throats of the opponent, they couldn't get much better at right guard than Scherff. He, Gabe Jackson and Rodney Hudson together would beat just about any interior rush defense. Scherff is a major reach at fourth overall, but were the Raiders to trade down into the latter part of the top ten, he might be a solid target there. Mike Tice could really do wonders with this guy.
Another great player at a need position for the Raiders. His addition would solidify the Raiders offensive line where currently there is a guard position unsettled. Part of the reason the Raiders line would be solidified is the addition of Gabe Jackson in last year's draft. They were able to grab him in the third round and he started his entire rookie season at left guard.
Another reason was they made their top priority in free agency to sign center Rodney Hudson. Their top free agent priorities last offseason was also along the offensive line. That way come draft time, they could go with pass rushing linebacker Khalil Mack, followed by quarterback Derek Carr.
I see a similar approach this draft due to the team still very much in need of playmakers on both sides of the ball. There will be some on the board to choose from with the fourth overall pick. Offensive guard will have to wait.
Marcus Allen Krause
It would be pretty shocking to see the Raiders use their top pick in this year's draft on an Offensive Lineman, especially a Guard which Brandon Scherff is projected as in the NFL. Still, it can not be outrightly dismissed either because Scherff does have the potential to be a pro bowl level interior linemen.
We would need to see two things from Scherff in order for him to be a realistic option for the Raiders. First off, they would need to trade down because taking a Guard at number 4 in this draft would be downright comical. Secondly, he would have to seriously improve on his combine numbers because his 22 reps on the bench press is simply not going to cut it. If those two things were to happen then it would not be a bad selection for the Raiders to make.
His addition would solidify their interior line for years to come. He went to college at Iowa which is one of the most respected schools in the entire country for their offensive linemen. He has the hardware after winning the Outland Trophy last year as a tough, blue collar guy who would rather go hunting than attending the NFL draft despite him being a first round pick. It would be upsetting to see him be the number 4 pick for the Raiders, but if they traded down and acquired extra picks while selecting him then that would be fine by me.