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WSU’s Joe Dahl drafted by Detroit Lions

Washington State offensive lineman Joe Dahl, right, runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in late February. On Saturday, he was picked in the fifth round of the NFL draft by the Detroit Lions. (L.G. Patterson / Associated Press)
Washington State offensive lineman Joe Dahl, right, runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in late February. On Saturday, he was picked in the fifth round of the NFL draft by the Detroit Lions. (L.G. Patterson / Associated Press)
Jacob Thorpe

PULLMAN – For the better part of two days, the Dahl family home in Spokane was braced by nervous anticipation, as a litany of names were listed on the TV, and none of them Joe Dahl’s.

Then late Saturday morning, the former University High and Washington State standout offensive lineman’s phone began ringing, and all the tension gave way to triumph as the Detroit Lions informed Dahl they were making him their selection with the 151st pick in the NFL draft.

“The whole last couple days has been really anxious for me, and I’ve been pretty stressed out,” Dahl said. “But I could care less when I heard my name. I’m just really excited it ended up being Detroit and that I got to hear my name called at all.”

Since that call, Dahl’s phone hasn’t stopped buzzing with texts and calls of congratulations. His family and friends have spent the intervening hours scouring the internet for Lions gear and cheap tickets to Detroit.

Dahl will fly out to Detroit in the middle of next week to meet his coaches and the organization, and will take part in the team’s rookie minicamp shortly thereafter.

Jason Hanson, an All-American kicker at WSU and another Greater Spokane League star fittingly announced Detroit’s selection. Hanson was drafted by Detroit in 1992 and played 21 seasons for the Lions.

Dahl, a three-year starter for the Cougars, began his career at Montana and subsequently transferred to WSU, where he initially played without a football scholarship. He ended his career as a first team All-Pac-12 left tackle, and the conference’s best pass blocking offensive lineman according to Pro Football Focus.

Dahl will likely play guard in Detroit, a position he is familiar with having started at left guard during the 2013 season before switching to tackle prior to WSU’s bowl game that season.

The Lions are a team in immediate need of help upfront, and Dahl was Detroit’s third draft selection on the offensive line. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was sacked 89 times over the previous two seasons, the fourth-most of any starting QB, and the Lions had the NFL’s worst running game last year.

Detroit spent its first round pick on an offensive tackle, Taylor Decker, and chose interior offensive lineman Graham Glasgow in the third round. So, Dahl will help form the nucleus of a young offensive line as the three rookies grow together.

“I actually met both of those guys along the way,” Dahl said. “It’s awesome that I’m a little bit familiar with them. I know they have a young, talented group of o-linemen. I talked to the o-line coach and assistant o-line coach, and they seem like great guys. I’m just really excited to get over there and start competing.”

Dahl was selected in the draft’s fifth round, making him the first offensive lineman to be drafted out of WSU since Zack Williams in 2011, and the highest selection since Scott Sanderson was picked in the third round of the 1997 draft. WSU’s Mike Utley was picked in the third round by the Detroit Lions in 1989.

While some analysts had thought Dahl might be selected as high as the third round, concerns stemming from a broken foot suffered during his senior season likely depressed his draft stock.

There were also concerns pre-draft about his arm length (79 1/2 inch wingspan) and the fact WSU offensive linemen do not employ a three-point stance. However, Dahl’s strong hands and quick feet turned him into one of the Pac-12’s elite offensive linemen, and he is expected to contribute immediately in Detroit.

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