We’ve reached the exciting part of the Lions roster in part 6 of the series. Today we look at backup guard/tackle. Rookie 5th round pick Joe Dahl is the specimen under the microscope. Dahl is 6’4 and 304 pounds out of Washington State. He played in Mike Leach’s pass happy scheme and was excellent in pass protection for the Cougars at left tackle. Due to his size and lack of arm length, many have project Dahl to the guard position. Dahl is signed to a cheap four year contract (2.5 million) as a 5th round pick in the 2016 draft. He will have a cap hit of 511K in 2016.
Draft Profile per NFL.com
Has started at guard and tackle and could be considered emergency tackle in a pinch. Decent flexibility in his lower half. Uses wide base as run blocker. Despite playing in pass-happy offense, shows ability to fire out with pop into defender and get some initial push as drive blocker. Good grip to maintain his initial block. Has hand quickness to move inside. Does a nice job of shifting weight to challenge inside moves. Coaches rave about his work habits and ability to retain information. Added weight and then muscle to his frame over last two years. Works his tail off to recover when beaten in pass protection. Constantly looking for work and will cave in pass rusher engaged with his teammate.
Feet are a little bit heavy and he can be a little plodding when asked to block in space. Doesn’t possess second level quickness to consistently get to cutoff blocks. Sluggish change of direction may turn his near misses into sacks and tackles for losses against NFL athletes. Arm length is below average so he will need more core strength to drop anchor and take a stand. Uses crab-hand punch with hands outside the frame allowing forward leaning bull rushers to push the pocket. As game progresses, shows some waist-bending tendencies.
NFL Comparison: TJ Lang
Dahl projects to guard but has been working as the backup left tackle for the Lions in OTAs. The fourth tackle spot is up for grabs for Detroit and the top backup guard spot should be won by veteran Geoff Schwartz. Undrafted free agent rookie Chase Farris has a shot to make the roster as the second backup guard if Dahl stays at the fourth tackle spot.
Dahl should make the roster and provide excellent depth for Detroit with some versatility at tackle and guard. In 2017, Dahl may be the top backup guard off the bench but he does have starting potential. Starting right guard Larry Warford and backup veteran Geoff Schwartz are both free agents in 2017 which may give Dahl a chance next season if neither are re-signed. Next up in the series we’ll check out the other backup guard/tackle for Detroit in Geoff Schwartz.