2016 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Stanford OG Josh Garnett

As you should know by now, our attention has now shifted to the 2016 NFL Draft as it relates to the prospects. From now until the draft takes place, we hope to profile as many draft prospects as we possibly can for you. Most of these player profiles will be centered around prospects the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have interest in.

One of the top interior prospects of the draft is who we’re profiling today. Stanford guard Josh Garnett.

#51 Josh Garnett/OG Stanford: 6’4/4 317

The Good

– Prototypical size, carries weight well with a huge lower half, and combines it with good enough length (33 3/8 inch arms)
– Physical, nasty lineman with desire to throw his weight around and finish his blocks
– Underrated athlete with nimble feet for his frame, capable of long/short pulling, and relatively explosive out of his stance
– Works hard to get arms extended in both phases and creates separation between he and the defender
– Strong, controlling hands and when playing with technique, defenders have great level of difficulty shedding
– Innate strength that is derived from his lower half but also gets low and plays with proper leverage
– Played in an offense that ran every sort of scheme, no assignment will be foreign to him in the NFL
– Hard worker who wants to get better, takes opportunity to soak up as many reps as he can, even just mental ones
– Likeable personality, well-spoken player who teams are likely to mark high in the interview room
– NFL bloodlines, dad played in the NFL

The Bad

– A good athlete but not a tremendous one and can get a little exposed in space
– Slight tendency to lean/bend in pass protection and just needs to make a conscious effort to maintain his base
– Has to keep his base under him as a run blocker, will get overextended on some drive blocks and fall off
– Could do better job looking for work in pass protection, gets a little lax when uncovered
– Some small issues mentally, screwing up on his assignment, but minor and he has desire to learn and get better with repetitions


– Two-year, full-time starter at left guard for Stanford, team captain senior year
– 2015 Outland Trophy winner for nation’s best lineman, first in school history
– 2015 All-American by almost every outlet
– Saw spot-starts and playing time in 2012 and 2013, work in jumbo packages
– Father, Scott, drafted in 8th round of 1984 draft, a defensive lineman who spent four years in the NFL

Tape Breakdown

Garnett is one of the top interior prospects in this year’s draft, especially if you consider someone like Cody Whitehair as a tackle.

Garnett should be viewed, and adored, for his ability to run block. Shows that nasty, finish blocks, put people on his butt. It should not be the only thing he’s known for, don’t pigeon-hole him, but it’s definitely in his arsenal.

As the left guard in all the following clips, watch him stick, drive, and pancake this Northwestern three tech.

On this Wildcat play, Garnett buries the defensive tackle as he spikes inside. Keeps the alley open as Christian McCaffery scoots behind for a touchdown.

But like I wrote, that isn’t all he is. He was asked to pull and kickout as much as any lineman you’re going to watch, and he did it well. Nimble feet for a big man who has pulled across the formation and short-pulled. Here he kicks out the five tech, putting him into the ground, on this power concept.

And here he is short-pulling, basically fold blocking with the center and working to the MIKE ‘backer. Sticks and drives and even though he falls off late, had the hole not been filled, the running back is long gone before the linebacker can shed.

Though I like Garnett, and the conclusion of this report a glowing one, it doesn’t mean I ignore his flaws. Most are minor but they’re present, and you’re always looking to get better. In the clip below, he fails to keep his feet moving and winds up leaning in pass protection, getting away with it because of his strength and the defender’s poor hand use, failing to shed the block.

On this run block, he shows flatback on contact initially but is able to get his lower half under him after a couple steps and again, his strength and hands is enough to get by.

Watched him at the Senior Bowl and overall, he was impressive. An easy-going guy to talk to who gave thoughtful, honest answers. You might think he’s best in a power scheme, especially with the preconceived notions about what a Stanford offense is (gap schemes), but Garnett told me they ran inside zone the majority of the time in 2015. He can fit in any system.

I’ve shared the story before but watch him in practice or on practice tape, and you see a guy who takes a rep nearly every time, regardless of whether he’s directly in the drill or not. Have a bad rep? He’d jog over to the side and practice a couple times on what he was just coached up. An “inactive” participant of the offensive line in one-on-one drills? He’ll still shoot his hands and take the rep. Little stuff like that you love.

Now, it wasn’t all perfect, and on the All-22 I was able to view, I did see some mental blips. Carrying out the wrong assignment or not being sound in his zone rules, chasing lineman he definitely shouldn’t. It’s minor and hey, it’s a new environment and offense, so I’m not looking to kill the guy over it, but it’s a reminder that he’s prone to mistakes, even if he has a Stanford degree.

Bottom line is that Garnett is the type of player that will thrive in any system, any scheme, under any coaching staff. He’s an easy guy to fall for, as a player and as a person, and figures to be the first true guard to come off the board in April. Remember, he’s only a two year starter and that makes his ceiling even higher.

Projection: Top 25

Games Watched: at Northwestern, vs UCLA, vs California, Senior Bowl

Previous Player Profiles
Hunter HenryEli AppleLaquon TreadwellDadi NicolasKendall Fuller
Deion JonesJihad WardKevin PetersonVonn BellMichael Caputo
Andrew BillingsMackensie AlexanderTyler ErvinAustin BlytheChris Jones
Sheldon RankinsNoah SpenceJordan JenkinsYannick NgakoueDarian Thompson
Bryce WilliamsCre’von LeblancHenry Krieger-CobleLeonard Floyd

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • Razor Blade

    Looks like a stud and reminds me of DeCastro, just a bit nastier. Would like it as a first round pick, even though I am not sure that I would want a rookie play next to Alejandro.

  • Nicholas Allen Cotner

    If we go OG in the 1st I think it would be responsible to expect them to flip DD so he is next to Big V and the rookie with Gilbert

  • Bill Sechrengost

    Thanks Alex. If they re-sign Foster, then this guy won’t be on the table for the Steelers. He is definitely the top guard in this draft. Like him a lot. Would definitely be a great fit for the Steelers. I just don’t think they will have the need for him, as I think they will definitely re-sign Foster. Keep up the good work Alex. Looking forward to more profiles.

  • Big White

    Can’t have enough Stanford lineman. There is talent between the ears.

  • PittsburghSports

    I really like this guy, and if Foster leaves in free agency, I think Guard becomes our top need, but I’m just not sure I see Garnett as a top 25 guy. Maybe top 40. You usually need to be one heck of an athlete to get picked top 25 as a Guard, like a Zack Martin. I would love him if he fell to the 2nd rd. I think taking him at 25 is reaching though. Like when we picked DeCastro, who is a super athletic guy, he was projected in the top 15 and fell to us. Is Garnett that same type of guy? Is he the technician DeCastro is? I love his nastiness, but I’m not sure he’s there athletically and mentally. Any tape of him moving on screen plays?

  • PittsburghSports

    He’s really nothing like DeCastro, beside the uniform.

  • Ike Evans

    Id take him…good prospect

  • falconsaftey43

    They are similar in that they were both experienced at pulling in that scheme. DeCastro is more athletic, Garner is nastier, not as good in pass pro.

  • 58Steel

    Yep, I was kinda surprised to see Alex list him in the top 25-btw, thanks Alex, as always for the breakdown; Garnett is one of the 2 I asked for-being that he’s a guard and not as athletic as a Decastro.
    If we don’t keep Foster, Garnett is a guy I like (hell, I like him anyway. Imagine him with a year or two under Munchak). Would grab him in RD if he’s still there.
    Related, interested how highly the Steelers feel about Finney. They upped his salary by season’s end to basically active roster pay, to prevent him from getting poached. Have to think they wouldn’t pay him that if Finney was “just another guy.”

  • PittsburghSports

    Yeah which is basically saying they’re similar because of the uniform. I mean, Garnett is not Ramon Foster, but he’s pretty much the opposite of Decastro.

  • PittsburghSports

    I wouldn’t be totally against drafting Garnett in Rd. 1, and he could be a plug-and-play guy too, I just think it’d be reaching instead of having a player fall to us. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  • Alex Kozora

    I don’t think he’s a super athlete but I don’t see that one requirement as a deal breaker for a first round pick. Anytime you have a guy – who in my eyes – is a plug ‘n play type who can start for years, you have a first round pick.

    And like I said, they pulled him a ton, and he is explosive out of his stance. They ran a lot of zone which can involve getting to the 2nd level. Much like Ramon Foster, being an elite athlete can be a tad overrated for a guard. Great to have but isn’t going to curtail in most schemes.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    I think you are spot on about talent. If he isn’t an elite athlete, he will slip down some in the draft simply because there will be some guys at the combine which will blow up that we don’t even talk about yet. Top 50 seems right to me. He immediately shoots up our board if Foster leaves. I would love for him to be there in round 2.

  • 58Steel

    I would love to see Garnett in black and gold. It depends who else is there at 25, of course. If Ashawn, Billings, or Spence are there (possible, even if not likely), or Ramsey, Hargreaves (in an alternate universe), then I’d grab one of them. Maybe even Ragland.
    If you’re looking at Austin Johnson or Butler, Apple; close one.
    Colbert says they look for a “special talent” in RD 1. If you don’t have that in front of you, I think you have a bit of BPA meets need compromise.

  • PittsburghSports

    A’Shawn Robinson is not much more than a run stopper. Not sure we need that. Billings is a NT, and some think he’s scheme versatile, but if we resign McLendon it’s be pointless to draft him too. Spence is the best edge rusher in the class, so I doubt he’ll be available. Ramsey will absolutely not be available. Not a big fan of Hargreaves or any CB in the 1st rd outside of Ramsey. Austin Johnson is another run stuffer, but I really like Vernon Butler. A tad short for DE for us, but really long arms. Out of the guys you listed that’s where’d I’d go.

  • 58Steel

    I agree with you that if a guy is just a run stopper, I wouldn’t want to spend a 1st Rd pick on him. There would be value, even if we keep McClendon. Big Steve has some position flexibility, so getting a run stopping nose would free him up to rotate and give Heyward/Tuitt a breather. We could get a 1 dimensional guy like that in RD 4, say (DJ Reader).
    So I feel Billings athleticism for such a big, powerful guy gives him more value. Robinson, well, you may be right. I think he brings more, too. If you watch him, he’ll make some plays that make you wonder how he did that. But it’s not consistent. Johnson, more of a run stuffer, but super high energy for a big guy. Steelers fans would love him. Butler? Yes, he’s in the mix with that group too. Sometimes you’re splitting hairs or see something someone else doesn’t. I like the guys I mentioned more than Butler.
    Spence? Just thinking maybe his off field issues would scare some off.

  • PittsburghSports

    I think Butler is not only in that mix, but better than any of the DLs you mentioned.

  • SFIC

    I’d be fine with this pick at 25. I remember him being average in one-on-one drills at the Senior Bowl. I think he will improve there with good coaching because he has a high football IQ. When I rewatched the Bowl game I focused on line play. He really held his own and could be another DeCastro. He may not be my fav pick, but if we take him I’ll be happy. Certainly better than any CB that will be available.

  • LucasY59

    I would be pretty surprised if he was the pick at #25 (but I definitely wouldnt hate it) I really want him as the 2nd rd pick, but I think he is easily the best Guard in the draft and a team will pick him before the Steelers get a chance. (there are a lot of Mocks that have him lasting into the 2nd and some even into the 3rd, but mocks are usually way off) I dont see how the #1 player at a position is making it very far into the 2nd rd. I would possibly be willing to trade in the 2nd to make sure they could get him (but it couldnt be a trade that costs them more than this yrs 2nd rd pick and a 4th or 5th rd pick next yr, also cant be multiple picks this yr since they have traded away too many of those already)

  • LucasY59

    I like that he is a guy that can throw his weight around in the run game and has a bit of a nasty streak to him, I think it is the additional attitude that the OL needs, Wallace and to some degree Foster have a bit of mean to them, but Garnett has the physical skill and talent in addition so putting those two attributes together is a bonus

    I really like what he could do for the OL, I think he could almost be an instant upgrade to Foster, with a much, much higher Ceiling. and since Foster is a FA that isnt for sure coming back I would almost wish that the Draft happened before the start of FA this yr, they could possibly save some $, but they cant wait and hope that they can draft a replacement. so a decision on Foster will be made before the Draft comes.

    If Munch likes him then I think he would be a great pick (Coach has not really been able to have his very own pick in the draft yet, and with what he has done with the guys gven to him, a hand picked guy could be really good) It would be investing a lot into the interior OL but that could also make them have one of the best int. trios in the league.

    He would also be under a rookie contract for the remainder of Bens contract (and a rookie salary for a quaility OL Starter is still cheaper than keeping Ramon Foster as the Starter) also, If he turns out to be a All-Pro caliber LG, they should be able to pay to keep him (Ben takes a little more cap friendly extension to stay on a few more yrs, or Ben Retires and the cap space gets a lot bigger) and having the core interior guys should make a young QBs job a lot easier, when he is trying to fill Ben’s shoes.

    I think the investment pays off a ton on the field as well, any investment that improves the blocking for Ben is worth it! and the blocking for Bell would be improved as well, and basically the entire offense should improve (which is a scary thought for opposing D’s since they are already a top tier Offense) I made a lot of these points last yr when I thought La’el Collins was worth the 1st rd pick (and that was before his draft was ruined, but also why I was pretty upset they werent willing to use a draft pick on him and he fell out of the draft, I held a little hope that he would sign as a UDFA, but he got to choose where he went and Jerry’s $ mightve influenced his decision)

    The one concern I would have early on is that the weakest part of his game seems to be pass pro (I think he will eventually be fine in that area, with coaching from a HOF LG) but if he struggles it could be a bad thing for Ben, adding to that is AV would be next to him and is also a guy that is Developing and would be better off with a guy that is a little more comfortable with the NFL game than a brand new rookie.

    so I guess the best case scenario is that Foster is able to be re-signed (but at a very cap friendly deal where other than this coming season he would be paid more like a veteran depth player than a vet starter) It is already unlikely that Foster stays because he seems to want one last big payday, but I think a contract where he gets a decent signing bonus this yr (that makes his pay equal to a starters salary) and then the rest of the yrs be closer to minimum, but maybe have some performance kickers written in so that if he is still starting he will get paid more, but if he is kept around as depth he will be affordable cap wise. (the signing bonus also makes it so those other yrs arent really min salary either)

    I think Ramons days as a starter are pretty limited anyway (with this team or another) so if he leaves for another team they will more than likely cut him before the end of his contract, staying with the team that he has been with his entire career and being able to play for 3-4 more yrs might be the better option (and might not be that far off in total $ than him chasing a big contract)

  • 58Steel

    Understand. I will give him (many of them) another look. Hopefully, Alex will include him in one of his profiles.

  • LucasY59

    I have concerns with putting a rookie next to AV, but I also have concerns splitting up DD and Gilbert. I think the continuity of DeCastro and Gilbert is important both guys had a very good season playing next to each other.

    DeCastro was a RG in college and as far as I know has never played on the Left side, that doesnt mean that he cant play LG but I would rather keep him in the spot that he is comfortable in and the spot he was an All-Pro. kinda the same with Garnett he is used to playing LG so keeping him there is probably best for his development.

    as for AV both of those guys would be someone different than who he is used to lining up next to, so he would have some adjustments either way, but I see the point of putting a rookie next to a guy who isnt very experienced (could be scary) but could also start the process of building the connection or familiarity that DD and Gilbert have.

    one more thing is that Pouncey will be back as the leader of the OL and would be able to help the rookie so AV wouldnt need to worry as much about helping the guy next to him and can focus on what he needs to do himself

  • Nicholas Allen Cotner

    All valid points

  • Douglas Andrews

    Looks like a Steeler. I’m okay if he’s the Steelers first round pick.

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    He could be a plug and play guy but would it be a good use of resources to have 3 firsts and a 2nd on one offensive line?.

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    +1 on big Vern. I’d so love to see him terrorizing centres and guards in the black and gold.

  • 58Steel

    I am warming up to Butler (not that I wasn’t already, but more so). He has the length, as you stated. Has some burst as well. Seems like he’d be able to play the 0 or 1 easily, and the length and burst should enable Butler to spell Cam and Tuitt in the nickel (eventually). He doesn’t have the height the Steelers desire for the 5, but neither does any of the others mentioned (Chris Jones from Miss. St. is ideal there, but we’re not looking for a replacement for 97/91). He played against a bit inferior competition in Conf USA, but performed well at the Senior Bowl. Hmm…