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Durkin's Prospect Watch: OL Brandon Scherff

By Dan Durkin—

(CBS) You have to go all the way back to the 2005 draft to find a class that didn't have an offensive tackle selected in the top 10. In a passing league in which quarterbacks earn the lion's share of blame, glory and money, teams must find ways to keep their uniforms clean. Thus, a premium is always placed on protection up front. In this draft class, one prospect stands out above the rest.

Today we take a look at the draft's top offensive lineman prospect: Iowa's Brandon Scherff.

OT/OG Brandon Scherff (6-foot-5, 319 pounds, 23, Iowa)

40-yard dash: 5.05
Three-cone: 7.19
Bench: 23
Vertical: 32 1/2"
Arm: 33 3/8"

Bio: Sherff arrived in Iowa City as an all-state offensive lineman from Denison High in Iowa, where he also played quarterback as a sophomore. He also played tennis, baseball and was the state shot put champion in 2007. He redshirted his true freshman season in 2010 at Iowa.

In 2011, Scherff appeared in 10 games, making three starts at left guard and earning Big Ten All-Freshman team honors. In 2012, he started seven games at left tackle before suffering a broken right leg and dislocated ankle against Penn State.

Scherff made a full recovery prior to the 2013 season, starting all 13 games at left tackle, earning first-team All-Big Ten and second-team All-American honors. He was also recognized as the team's offensive MVP. In 2014, he was named a team captain and started all 13 games at left tackle, winning the Outland Trophy (most outstanding interior lineman) and being named the Big Ten offensive lineman of the year.

In total, Scherff appeared in 43 games for the Hawkeyes, making 36 starts, with the majority coming at left tackle.

How he fits the Bears' scheme: The Bears' offensive line play slipped significantly in 2014, partly due to continuity issues stemming from a litany of injuries, but there were also mental and physical breakdowns from opening day starters. Given that new offensive coordinator Adam Gase uses power running schemes on top of zone runs and screens in the passing game, offensive linemen must be nimble and able to get to the second level, which matches Scherff's playing style well.

Scherff may not have the ideal length to play left tackle, but he's an immediate starter at either guard spot -- which could be his best position in the NFL -- or right tackle. With a decision yet to be announced on whether Bears Pro Bowler Kyle Long will compete at right tackle, Scherff could fit in immediately on the right side of the Bears offensive line and give them a dominant, powerful combination to run behind.

Scherff plays with a nasty demeanor and has violent, physical hands that noticeably jar defenders back on initial contact. Once he's able to latch on to a defender and gain a leverage advantage, he rarely loses that engagement and drives and redirects his opponent to win his gap and provide wide aiming points for the run game.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz spent six years coaching NFL offensive lines (Cleveland and Baltimore), so Scherff is well coached and prepared to make an easy transition to an NFL playbook and playing field. He moves well on pulls and trap blocks and doesn't take false steps to get in proper striking position while locating his blocking assignment.

Scherff can let pass rushers get to his pads first and has struggled at times with speed off the edge, which calls into question his ability to play on the left side in the NFL. His upper-body strength is also in question, as his 23 bench press reps ranked 24th out of the 37 participants at the scouting combine.

Draft projection: Scherff is the top offensive line prospect in the 2015 class and should be a top-10 selection.

Dan Durkin covers the Bears for and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @djdurkin.

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