Iowa has had six offensive linemen selected in the past five drafts, including two first-rounders, and if coach Kirk Ferentz is right, junior OT Brandon Scherff will be joining them soon.
Scherff (6-feet-5, 315 pounds) started for the first time last season at left tackle and played well until suffering a broken leg and dislocated ankle in Game 7; he missed the final five games of the season.
He returned for spring drills and looked good, and Ferentz told the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Gazette that he has talked with Scherff about the NFL.
"It's realistic to think that could happen," Ferentz said. "If he ends up in the same seat as Riley [Reiff] or Bryan [Bulaga, two Iowa left tackles who left early and were first-round picks], that's a good seat to sit in. You can't really make a wrong decision there.
"What I would say the challenge for Brandon is to get in that seat."
Scherff played guard as a redshirt freshman in 2011 before moving to left tackle last spring. If he indeed is healthy, he will vie for All-Big Ten honors. He started at quarterback as a high school sophomore in Denison, Iowa, before moving to the line as a junior.
Scherff is a polished run blocker who plays with a mean streak. As for his strength, Iowa put a video on YouTube of a Scherff weightlifting session in which he hang cleans 410 pounds three times. It's impressive.
He is one of three returning starters on the offensive line, and those guys are going to have to play well as the Hawkeyes break in a new starting quarterback. Ferentz is a run-first coach anyway, and it seems extremely likely that Iowa relies even more on the run than usual, at least early in the season. The season opener is against a Northern Illinois team coming off a BCS berth and Game 3 is against archrival Iowa State, so there is no time for the Iowa offense to experience any growing pains.