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Draft Watch, Week 5: Focused up front


The offensive line crop at the top of the draft won't be settled until the early-eligibility candidates declare for the 2015 NFL Draft this winter. But there are some seniors who are likely to nudge into the first and second rounds next spring.

Iowa left tackle Brandon Scherff (6-foot-5, 315 pounds) is off to a promising start this year, and has done nothing to jeopardize his status as a potential mid-first-round pick.

The most significant question on Scherff revolved around the knee injury he incurred Sept. 6 against Ball State. It reportedly necessitated surgery three weeks ago. But Scherff has shown little sign of discomfort since then, and he was stellar against Iowa State and Pittsburgh in the following games. His ability to drive off the snap and knock opposing defenders to the ground evokes 2014 first-rounder Jake Matthews, now with the Atlanta Falcons.

Scherff's quickness and reaction time could make a move to guard a possibility at the next level. But his comfort and power at left tackle is so evident that such a shift might be unnecessary -- and not the best use of resources.

South Carolina guard A.J. Cann (6-foot-3, 314 pounds) has played well, even as his team has remained inconsistent. He has only missed one start in his three-plus seasons with the Gamecocks, is athletic, and blocks with power and intelligence.

Can is one of the quickest on-field thinkers in this class, and reads the stunts and moves of oncoming rushers at a pro level. He looks like the best pure guard in the class, which should settle him somewhere in the late first round.

LSU's La'el Collins (6-foot-5, 315 pounds) is an outstanding run defender who only encounters problems when faced with extreme speed on the outside. If he engages with a pass rusher and gets his hands set, then he has little trouble with the kind of pass rushers he will see on Sundays.

Colorado State's Ty Sambrailo (6-foot-5, 310 pounds) returned to the lineup last weekend at Boston College after missing two full games and most of a third with a medial collateral ligament injury suffered against Colorado in the Rocky Mountain Showdown Aug. 30. He showed no ill effects from the injury.

Sambrailo is quick off the snap and does well at getting a good drive off the snap. What could determine his draft status is his size and whether he maintains his quickness. If he measures at 320-325 pounds at the Combine but shows no loss of agility, his stock should rise.


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