INDIANAPOLIS – The Vikings have their quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater, but that didn't stop them from checking out a former high-school passer on Friday.
Years ago, that kid threw for 1,200 yards as a sophomore, and Iowa had to have him.
But the Hawkeyes coveted Brandon Scherff as an offensive tackle, not a quarterback.
"I was 290 pounds, and my center was like 190 pounds. So it should be flip-flopped probably from that," Scherff, looking back, said this week at the NFL scouting combine. "It was a good experience for me, I learned a lot and I'm thankful for that."
Making the switch from passer to a pass protector was the right call for Scherff, who blossomed into an All-America during his Hawkeyes career. Now he is perhaps the top offensive line prospect in the 2015 NFL draft, and at least 20 teams — the Vikings likely among them — have chatted with the 319-pounder this week.
There is no consensus among scouts and draft analysts when it comes to Scherff's projected position in the pros. He won the Outland Trophy, given to the nation's top lineman, while starting at left tackle at Iowa. But some believe he would be best suited at right tackle and others feel he could make an immediate impact at guard.
"I'll play wherever, absolutely," Scherff said. "If I get a chance I'll just do my best."
The Vikings are in need of help at both guard and tackle, making him an obvious candidate for their 11th overall pick, assuming, of course, he is still on the board.
General Manager Rick Spielman and the team's scouting staff got their chance to eye up offensive linemen Friday. Scherff is one of a few big guys, including LSU's La'El Collins and Miami's Ereck Flowers, who are projected to be picked in the first round.
After pumping 23 reps on the 225-pound bench press Thursday, Scherff showed off his athleticism on Friday, running the 40-yard dash in 5.05 seconds, fourth among offensive linemen. Later in the morning, a tweaked hamstring in a movement drill ended his day, but his performance solidified him as one of the top linemen.
Not too shabby for a former high-school QB, baseball slugger and singles tennis player who also ran the floor for the basketball team and won the Iowa state shot put title.
"Yeah, I would consider myself a pretty good athlete," the 23-year-old conceded.
Concerns about his less-than-ideal arm length and inconsistent footwork are what have led some draftniks to question his ability to stay at left tackle in the NFL; they instead project him as a guard or right tackle, where he can use his strength to be a bully in the running game.
Scherff's power (he can hoist 480 pounds) and toughness (he had knee surgery in September and played four days later) should appeal to the Vikings, whose linemen struggled in 2014, in part because they were forced to get away from what they did best due to the loss of running back Adrian Peterson along with Bridgewater's insertion into the starting lineup.
"In our meetings last week we had a little session on offensive linemen," Spielman said. "We're a team that wants to come off and fire off the ball. That changed a little bit last year when we started going a little bit more with the spread with Teddy working a little bit more out of the shotgun. We had to make changes to philosophy on offense."
Spielman likes the depth at offensive line in this class, which is a good thing, because the Vikings might have to select multiple linemen during April's draft.
Left guard Charlie Johnson struggled last season and will be replaced. Left tackle Matt Kalil was also a liability. Right tackle Phil Loadholt was inconsistent before a season-ending torn pectoral. Due to injuries and a lack of communication at times, the running game often stalled and the Vikings allowed 51 sacks, fifth-most in the NFL.
Scherff could be a potential upgrade at one of those positions if the Vikings home in on him over the next couple of months. But which position exactly? He says he doesn't care.
"Like I said, I'll be happy to play wherever [teams] want me to play," Scherff said.
Hey, maybe even quarterback for a play or two if Bridgewater needs a breather.