- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 16, 2015

Given a chance to consider where he might begin his professional career, Brandon Scherff had to hesitate.

Standing under the spotlights at a makeshift podium at the NFL combine in February, the offensive tackle from Denison, Iowa, a population of just over 8,000, recognized that nearly every team is stationed in a sprawling metropolis.

A small-town guy in a big city? That’s perfect, he surmised then. As it turned out, it’s been even better than he figured.

“Actually, I thought this was going to be a bigger city, so I’m fine with this,” Scherff said Saturday, following the morning session of the Washington Redskins’ rookie minicamp. “I thought we were going to be in the middle of downtown, so I’m absolutely fine with this. It’s a lot better than what I thought it would be.”

Scherff was one of 65 players continuing their path from the college ranks to the pros, with 35 of them merely stopping in for a tryout. History has shown that just a handful of those players will sign with the team, and even then, few will end up making it when rosters are set in early September.

That won’t be the case for Scherff, the Redskins’ top draft pick last month at No. 5 overall. The 6-foot-5, 319-pounder is projected to take over as the team’s starting right tackle, continuing the makeover of a unit that new general manager Scot McCloughan wants to infuse with size, strength, athleticism and an overall nastiness.

“Obviously, moving over to right tackle is not just a transition that’s going to be immediate and easy for him,” coach Jay Gruden said. “He’s going to have to take some lumps. But the good thing about Brandon, he’s a very focused individual. He studies very hard. He takes coaching extremely well, and he’s got the best coach to coach him up.

“I think you see the progress from [Friday] morning to [Friday] afternoon to [Saturday morning] is a significant change for him already, and I think he’ll continue to get better.”

His last name taped to the front of his helmet like any other rookie, Scherff went through a variety of positional drills on Saturday morning, staying after with other offensive linemen to work with new position coach Bill Callahan.

At one point, Callahan, hired this offseason after three years with the Dallas Cowboys, asked his linemen to simulate protections with one hand behind their backs. Scherff said he’s already learned plenty from Callahan, who he described as being “very smart.”

“He’s taught us a lot and he’s put a lot on our shoulders,” Scherff said. “He expects us to know it, so that’s what you’ve got to do. You’ve got to come to practice and go to meetings and go back to the hotel and study and just complete that every day.”

Scherff signed his rookie contract last Tuesday, agreeing to the standard four-year deal, with a fifth-year team option, for $21.2 million. That wouldn’t have prevented him from joining his teammates at the minicamp, but it was one last thing for Scherff to have to worry about.

Having only been at the facility for a week, Scherff said there’s been no time for him to venture half an hour east to Washington. In fact, he hasn’t had time to do much — including coming to the realization that he’s not in Iowa anymore.

“You can’t really think about it,” Scherff said. “You can’t be nervous. You’ve just got to have some fun. This is your job, and you’ve just got to enjoy it.”

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