The debate about whether you take a guard with a top-five pick in the NFL draft — even a very good guard like Brandon Scherff — should be over, according to Redskins analyst Chris Cooley. Because Cooley doesn’t think Scherff is a very good guard. He thinks he is the best guard in the NFL.
“Watching this game, and him so far this season with his progression from last year, I don’t care what anybody says about whether you draft a guard with the first 10 picks,” Cooley said in his review of Washington’s Oct. 2 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs during his ESPN 980 program. “You do draft the best guard in the NFL with the first 10 picks, and he is that.”
“Good job, Scot,” eventually joked co-host Kevin Sheehan, referring to ex-general manager Scot McCloughan, who faced some heat over the pick.
“Good job, whoever drafted him,” Cooley said.
It was McCloughan, of course, who took some criticism over the unconventional choice of Scherff in the 2015 draft, when many fans were clamoring for a defensive lineman, and many analysts were insisting that guards should never be selected quite that high. McCloughan has long defended the pick — he recently wrote that it was one of the two best picks he made during his time in Washington — but I’m not sure anyone has ever praised the third-year guard as effusively as Cooley did after the Chiefs game, calling him the best player in that game, on either team.
“Brandon Scherff was incredible,” Cooley said. “He was knocking dudes down throughout this game at a rate that I haven’t seen offensive linemen knock dudes down. Just pancake blocking, KO blocking. . . . He had great vision as a pass blocker, great protection one-on-one when he had to be one-on-one. . . . He’s so good in space when he’s pulling, when he’s moving. He’s so physical. . . . He is gritty. He gets down and dirty. He is technically sound. He’s physical. He’s everything you ask for.”
The folks who re-watch NFL games and pick out noteworthy offensive line plays have also enjoyed Scherff’s play in recent weeks.
But there’s a difference between pulling out highlights and making declarative statements about where a player ranks among his peers. ESPN’s Jon Gruden started the party even before the Chiefs game, saying Scherff “is having an unbelievable season” and that “he made three or four plays against Oakland that are jaw-dropping.” And then Cooley took it to the next level.
“You say whatever you want to say about drafting a guard; you didn’t just draft a guard, you drafted the best guard in the NFL,” Cooley said. “He’ll be all-pro this year, no question. No question about it. If he’s healthy, he’s all-pro, first-team all-pro. Best guard in the NFL. Best right guard in the league. I’d put him up against anybody, and I would not question it for one second.”