After the draft, the conventional wisdom was that the Redskins made a very safe pick in tackle Brandon Scherff, perhaps the safest pick in the draft. That’s because, well, nobody is exactly sure. Maybe because we always say that offensive linemen taken at the top of the draft are bust proof.
But a look at the record reveals that linemen taken near the top of the draft are anything but safe picks. The guys at Football Perspective took a look at the performances of O-linemen who were taken early in the drafts from 2009-2014. The record is spotty at best.
—Last year three tackles were taken in the top 11 picks. Greg Robinson (2 overall, Rams) was the one of the worst starting tackles in the game while Jake Matthews (6-Falcons) was THE worst according to Pro Football Focus. Taylor Lewan (11-Titans) started the season on the bench and then was mediocre for six games before an ankle injury ended his season early.
—Do you want to go back a little further to see someone who has had a chance to establish himself? Matt Kalil (4-Vikings) had a good rookie season in 2012 but he has not played well since; he gave up a league-high 12 sacks last year.
—Let’s go back to 2009. Jason Smith (2-Rams) has been out of football since 2012. Eugene Monroe (8-Jaguars) was up and down for Jacksonville before they dealt him to the Ravens for a couple of late draft picks. Taken in between them was Andre Smith (6-Bengals), who was thought to be a risky pick due to weight issues but he has turned out to be a good pick for Cincinnati after a couple of tough years to start out.
—How about guards? In 2013 Chance Warmack (10-Titans) and Jonathan Cooper (7-Cardinals) were top-10 picks. Warmack has started 32 games but has been nondescript while Cooper has battled injuries and has taken just 182 snaps in two seasons.
All of this doesn’t mean that Scherff is destined to fail. There have been some successes near the top of the draft. The Redskins got a good one in 2010 in Trent Williams (4) and the Cowboys started to build one of the best lines in the game in 2011 when they took Tyron Smith (9).
Each draft is different and each player is different. Scherff could turn out to be an All-Pro or at least a solid player. But it's likely that the same was said about Robinson, Kalil, Jason Smith, and Cooper. I don’t even have to go look that up because it’s said about virtually every lineman that is taken early in the first round.
Like every edge rusher, every quarterback, every wide receiver, every player at every position taken in the draft, Scherff will have to work every day and prove himself. He has been given a good chance, with a team that desperately needs his services and one of the best offensive line coaches in the game in Bill Callahan. Scherff might become a success but, as a look at history reveals, he might not.