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Hawks in the NFL: The rookies

BY CHARLIE GREEN | JUNE 15, 2015 5:00 AM

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Brandon Scherff

Scherff ended his career as easily the most highly touted Hawkeye prospect in recent memory. Washington selected him at No. 5, making it the highest draft pick from Iowa since Oakland took Robert Gallery at No. 2 in 2004.The pick came earlier than some scouts expected, but nonetheless, his presence is greatly needed in our nation's capital.

Washington allowed 58 sacks last season — second worst in the league. Many scouts believed Scherff's immediate position in the NFL to be at guard, where his brute strength could be used to drive an effective rushing attack between the tackles.

But even though Scherff struggled at times last year against more athletic edge rushers, Washington appears intent on playing him at right tackle — a position that's been a problem for the team for a number of years.

The Skins report to training camp on July 23, giving Scherff about a month to ad- just to the speed of the NFL before being thrown into live action in September.

For a team that traditionally loves to run the ball, Scherff's impact will be immediate. With a strong feature running back in Alfred Morris, Washington's running game may benefit greatly. And given the team's shaky quarterback situation, head coach Jay Gruden's best option may a heavier dose of the ground game.

Barring injury, Scherff is a virtual lock to start Week 1.

Carl Davis

Davis slipped into the third round to Baltimore when many thought he could have been picked as high as the late first round.

NFL Network's Mike Mayock said Davis has "dominating height-weight-speed physical traits." The 6-5, 320-pound former Hawkeye also gained a lot of praise for a strong Senior Bowl week.

Despite being considered a great value pick, he will likely start training camp as a backup. But with the departure of Pro Bowl nose tackle Haloti Ngata, the Ravens could look to a replace-by-committee approach on its defensive front.

This means that regardless of if he's starting or not, Davis at least figures to get his share of snaps in a rotation of defensive linemen.

Davis' size and athleticism give him the versatility that NFL teams dream of. He can be used at both ends and at nose tackle in the Raven's 3-4 defensive scheme.

Right now, Chris Canty, Brandon Williams, and Timmy Jernigan own those starting spots. But in a sport filled injuries and fatigue, depth looms large among the most important qualities of a winning team. Davis gives the Ravens that depth on their defensive front.

One other note: Former Hawkeye Marshall Yanda, one of the league's best offensive linemen, will be on the other side of Davis during training camp, setting the stage for a couple of Hawks to duel in the trenches.

Andrew Donnal

Whereas Davis was selected later than expected, St. Louis' selection of Donnal in the fourth round was surprisingly early.

Interestingly, Donnal had the top vertical jump at his position at the 2015 NFL Combine. Still, his physical tools are considered limited.

One thing that is clear is that the Rams need help on the offensive line — and lots of it. The line as a unit ranked in the bot- tom 10 in both sacks and quarterback hits allowed in 2014.

Because Donnal has experience at both tackle and guard, that versatility might bode well for him. But most scouts agree that he's a project who needs time to develop and may need to do so significantly to stay in the league.

His first chance at life in the NFL starts on July 22, when rookies report to the Rams' training camp.


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