INDIANAPOLIS – Two offensive linemen from the state of Washington are among the hundreds of athletes looking to impress NFL teams in interview and workouts at this week's NFL scouting combine. But while Stanford's Joshua Garnett (Puyallup) and Washington State's Joe Dahl (Spokane), share both a college conference and a home state, they don't share very similar playing backgrounds from a schematic standpoint.
While Garnett, the son of former NFL defensive lineman Scott Garnett, won the Outland Trophy (college football's top interior lineman) in 2015 playing in a smash-mouth offense at Stanford, Dahl was one of the Pac 12's best linemen in an up-tempo spread offense. In an era where NFL executives—Seahawks GM John Schneider included—are asked about the challenges of finding NFL-ready linemen with so many college teams running spread offenses, Garnett has an advantage coming from Stanford, while Dahl is trying this week to prove he is versatile and intelligent enough to do something drastically different than what he did in collage.
"I probably learned more plays the first day of the Senior Bowl than I did in my college career," Dahl said. "It was definitely a different experience, but it was fun.
"I'd probably say maybe once or twice a game (at WSU) we came out of a three-point stance and really came just straight downhill. We were more of a zone type deal—a lot of blocks trying to get to the second level. Not a whole lot (of three-point stance), but I did some of it at the Senior Bowl and I think I put on good tape there."
Dahl, who began his college career at Montana before transferring to WSU, hopes what he did at the Senior Bowl and what he shows teams this week in workouts and in interviews is enough to prove he can play in a more traditional offense than the one he was in at Washington State. And even if Dahl's lack of experience in a traditional offense works against him, he does have on his side the versatility that allowed him to start at both guard and tackle in college.
When asked where he fits best, Dahl said he's happy wherever teams want him to play.
"Yeah, a lot of teams have asked me about that," he said. "What I told them was my honest answer: I really just feel comfortable whatever I played last. I played guard my redshirt sophomore year and then tackle from then on out. I am really comfortable at tackle, but at the Senior Bowl I played right guard, so right now I honestly feel more comfortable at right guard. I think that will help me as far as my versatility."
Garnett, meanwhile, is a guard who played in a Stanford offense that much more closely resembles what you're likely to see in the NFL.
"That was one of the reasons I chose Stanford coming out of high school," Garnett said. "We run a pro-style offense. We run a lot of different schemes… A lot of what we run is very similar to what a lot of NFL teams run."
Garnett, whose post-playing goals include being a trauma surgeon, wants to inflict a little damage on defensive players before he goes about healing people later in life.
"A lot guys want to get in space against smaller, quicker guys and just want to chop down on them," he said. "You've got to run through them. Just run through their soul, and hopefully if you hit them, they're going to go down."
Seahawks coaches, scouts and front office staff are out in Indianapolis to watch draft-class talent preform at Lucas Oil Stadium for the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine.