WSU Cougars offensive lineman Joe Dahl impressed scouts and analysts at the NFL Combine and was one of the top performers in three combine drills
Joe Dahl, Washington State’s lone representative at the NFL combine in Indianapolis, did well in his on-field drills Friday morning.
Dahl, an offensive tackle who projects as an NFL guard, checked in at 6 feet 4 and 304 pounds. That’s an inch taller and five pounds heavier than he measured at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. last month.
Oddly, his arms also were a little longer than when measured at the Senior Bowl — 33 1/8″ compared with the 32 3/4″ from Mobile. Either way, that’s good news for a guy whose arms are considered a little shorter than desired for his position.
NFL.com listed Dahl as a top performer among all offensive linemen in the 40-yard dash (5.18 seconds), the bench press (28 repetitions at 225 pounds) and the broad jump (9 feet, 1 inch). The latter two are especially important for offensive linemen, because it’s an opportunity for the big guys to demonstrate upper-body strength and lower-body explosiveness, respectively.
Dahl also appeared to make a good impression in the offensive-line position drills.
In a one-on-one drill in which Dahl had to hold off an oncoming opponent, NFL Network analyst and former New York Giants offensive lineman Shaun O’Hara commented that the former WSU left tackle “makes it look easy” and said Dahl had “really good footwork.”
In a footwork drill in which Dahl was asked to shuffle backward down the hash, NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock also said “he makes it look easy” and likened Dahl to former Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel, who was ultimately drafted No. 2 overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2013 NFL draft.
In interviews with reporters on Wednesday, Dahl said teams are looking at him as an interior lineman, and that he learned more plays during his first day at the Senior Bowl than he did in his entire college career.
That might have something to do with the fact that, according to this Fox Sports story, the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff that coached the North team Dahl played for decided not to give their players any playbooks, but instead used the entire Senior Bowl week as an experiment to see how well prospects were able to take notes and process information.
Dahl told The Seattle Times last week that his Senior Bowl experience really helped him transition to the three-point stance required of offensive linemen in the NFL.
At WSU, the Cougars’ linemen generally average 85 to 90 plays per game, and they play mostly in a two-point stance – “maybe once or twice a game we came out of a three-point stance and really came just straight downhill,” Dahl said. “We were more of a zone-type deal. A lot of blocks trying to get to the second level.”
Dahl has been through a full battery of interviews with teams and he said one common theme that’s stuck out is how teams try to test a player on the mental part of the game.
“They just want to see your base offensive knowledge,” Dahl said. “Plays, trying to memorize what they call their certain fronts.
“They ask for your favorite run play in college and your favorite pass protection. We didn’t have much of either.”
Dahl’s answer to that question?
“I always go for the same thing. I am an inside zone guy for runs. Then I’ll draw up our pass protection for a nickel front.”
Dahl is widely viewed as a mid-round selection who, according to NFL Network analyst Lance Zierlein, is a “worthy pick as a potential starter.”
But perhaps his stock will go up following his combine performance?
Whatever happens, Dahl, a former walk-on, said he’s made it a point to savor the whole combine experience and “try to appreciate the moment.”
“It’s great to make it this far in your career,” Dahl said. “But I am trying to show teams something.”
Seattle Times staff reporter Bob Condotta contributed to this report from Indianapolis.