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Brandon Scherff, Eric Rowe facing position changes in NFL


Iowa offensive tackle Brandon Scherff won the Outland Trophy as the nation's best interior lineman in 2014, and he is a good choice to be the first offensive lineman off the board Thursday night in the first round of the NFL draft.

But don't be surprised if Scherff ends up at guard rather than at tackle in the NFL. NFL Media analysts Mike Mayock and Lance Zierlein, among others, think Scherff's best NFL fit is at guard.

» Mike Mayock's top five 2015 NFL Draft prospects by position

And Scherff (6-foot-5, 319 pounds) is far from the only player who might fit better in the NFL at a position other than the one he played in college.

Safety is one of the weakest positions in this draft, so teams could be looking at Rowe (6-1, 205) to make the move from cornerback to safety. Actually, for Rowe, the move should read "back to safety." He started at free safety in each of his first three seasons at Utah, then moved to cornerback as a senior. His experience -- and success -- at safety in a draft that features few elite prospects at the position could mean a team selects Rowe with the purpose of using him at safety. The flipside: His size as a corner sure is enticing.

Players changing positions once they get to the NFL certainly isn't new. Herb Adderley was a running back at Michigan State before he was converted into a cornerback by the Green Bay Packers; he now is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. So is Rayfield Wright, who was a tight end at Fort Valley (Ga.) State before being moved to offensive tackle by the Dallas Cowboys. And so is Sam Huff, who was a tackle at West Virginia before becoming one of the best middle linebackers in NFL history with the New York Giants. Julian Edelman (from quarterback to wide receiver), Bruce Miller (defensive end to fullback), Jason Peters (tight end to offensive tackle), Antwaan Randle El (quarterback to wide receiver) and Denard Robinson (quarterback to running back) are a few other notables who changed positions.

Nick Marshall, who played quarterback at Auburn, knows his best chance to make an NFL team is as a defensive back, and he already is preparing for the move. Here are 12 other players who could be in line for a position change once they get to the NFL.

Alex Carter, Stanford

The (potential) move: From cornerback to safety.
The particulars: 6-0, 196.
The skinny: He was a three-year starter at corner for Stanford and left school after his junior season. NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock has Carter as his No. 5 safety in his position-by-position rankings. Carter would seem to be a nice fit at safety for teams that play a lot of zone. His dad, Tom, was a first-round pick by the Washington Redskins in 1993. How's this for possible symmetry: Tom was a free safety at Notre Dame but played cornerback for nine seasons in the NFL.


Draft coverage:

Donald Celiscar, Western Michigan

The (potential) move: From cornerback to safety.
The particulars: 5-11, 194.
The skinny: He was a three-year starter at cornerback for Western Michigan, with 10 interceptions and 45 pass breakups in his career and obviously has good ball skills. He lacks top-end speed, but he is physical and had success as a press corner in college. Zierlein and fellow analyst Charles Davis project him as a safety in the NFL.

Imoan Claiborne, Northwestern State (La.)

The (potential) move: From cornerback to safety.
The particulars: 5-11, 187.
The skinny: Claiborne is a former FCS star and Zierlein projects him as an NFL safety. Claiborne started for two years at cornerback for Northwestern State. While he lacks top-end speed, he has good footwork, is a solid tackler and can be a disruptive player in press-man coverage. If he doesn't move to safety, he could be used as a slot corner.

La'el Collins, LSU

The (potential) move: From tackle to guard.
The particulars: 6-4 1/2, 305.
The skinny: He was a three-year starter at left tackle for LSU, but he might fit best on the right side or even inside in the NFL. There are concerns about his athleticism as a left tackle, but he did show well in combine testing. He needs technique work as a pass protector, and his hand usage is seen as a negative. Collins does play with an edge, though. Zierlein says he could start "right away" at guard for a power-running team.

Ereck Flowers, Miami

The (potential) move: From tackle to guard.
The particulars: 6-6, 329.
The skinny: He started for two seasons at left tackle for the Hurricanes after serving as a part-time starter at right tackle as a true freshman. Flowers is a powerful run blocker who simply mashes defenders once he gets on them. His pass blocking needs work, though, and at the least, a move to right tackle seems probable. But a move inside could interest teams, too, because of his sheer nastiness as a run blocker. Zierlein says he would grade Flowers higher as a guard than tackle.

Byron Jones, Connecticut

The (potential) move: From cornerback to safety.
The particulars: 6-1, 199.
The skinny: He is one of the premier athletes in the draft and is getting some mention as a potential first-round pick. His size and athleticism at cornerback is enticing. But his background at safety -- he started there in his first two seasons at UConn -- figures to entice some teams, too. He isn't all that physical, though he is a solid tackler.

Ali Marpet, Hobart (N.Y.)

The (potential) move: From tackle to center or guard.
The particulars: 6-4, 307.
The skinny: The move from tackle seems a given, with the only question being whether the Division III star will be a guard or center in the NFL. He played guard at the Reese's Senior Bowl and didn't look out of place. But he also would seem to fit at center for a team that uses zone blocking.

Darian Miller, Kentucky

The (potential) move: From tackle to guard.
The particulars: 6-5, 307.
The skinny: Miller was a three-year starter at left tackle at Kentucky, but he's another prospect who appears best-suited to play inside at the next level. His lack of athleticism means he would have trouble at tackle in the NFL, even on the right side. But he has a high-revving motor and is willing to mix it up. Couple that with his size and strength, and he could become a solid NFL guard.

Mitch Morse, Missouri

The (potential) move: From tackle to guard.
The particulars: 6-5, 305.
The skinny: Morse spent his last two seasons at Mizzou as the Tigers' starting right tackle, but he seems likely to transition inside in the NFL. He has some experience inside, as he started seven games at center as a sophomore in 2012. Guard is his best NFL fit, though. Morse is a tough, physical guy who is limited athletically. His run-blocking ability stands out and makes him a good fit at guard.

Quinten Rollins, Miami (Ohio)

The (potential) move: From cornerback to safety.
The particulars: 5-11, 195.
The skinny: Rollins is Mayock's No. 4 safety. And as every draftnik should know by now, Rollins also is one of the draft's best stories. He was a four-year starter at point guard for Miami's basketball team, then decided to give football a try. It was a good decision, as he was named the MAC's defensive player of the year. He is a good athlete but is raw with his technique and it could be a while before he is truly ready to play corner in the NFL. There is a shorter learning curve at safety, and his skill set might fit best there anyway.

Josh Shaw, USC

The (potential) move: From cornerback to safety.
The particulars: 6-0 1/2, 201.
The skinny: He started three games at free safety for the Trojans in 2013, and a handful of schools recruited him as a safety out of high school in the 2010 class. Shaw has some off-field baggage -- he was suspended for 10 games in 2014 because he made up a story about how he suffered an injury -- but his versatility is appealing. As with Rowe, his size at cornerback will intrigue teams. But he lacks top-end speed and isn't all that physical, either, meaning free safety could be in his future.

Shaq Thompson, Washington

The (potential) move: From linebacker to safety.
The particulars: 6-0, 228.
The skinny: The versatile Thompson -- he saw a lot of time at running back in his time at Washington -- is Mayock's No. 3 safety; he did see time at safety against Stanford. While Thompson can be viewed as a "Swiss Army knife" type of guy, there also is a concern over his most natural NFL position; in some ways, he is a jack-of-all-trades but a master of none. He would seem to be an intriguing player as an in-the-box safety, though his coverage ability is a question. There also are questions about whether he can maintain his weight during a long season. But he flows well to the ball and was a big-play guy at Washington.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.



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