INDIANAPOLIS -- Josh Garnett says that when he's on the move and taking aim at blocking a defensive player, he wants to "run through their soul."
"Yes, sir," Garnett said from the stage of the Combine media room. "You just go right through them."
Garnett has done that quite a bit as the starting left guard at Stanford the last two seasons. He might be one of the best power pulling guards to come out of the college ranks since Dave DeCastro, who also played guard for The Cardinal.
"That was kind of the guy I liked to model myself after at Stanford," Garnett said. "That’s a guy who was a mauler, a finisher. When he punches you, you’re going to feel it. That was a guy I really liked to watch film of, just the way he finished. I modeled my play after that. I really wanted to finish people and imitate what David DeCastro was doing."
Garnett didn't play with DeCastro, but when he was younger he watched DeCastro play in high school while Garnett was growing up in Puyallup, Washingon, about 45 miles outside of Seattle.
"I grew up watching him at Bellview," Garnett said of DeCastro's suburban Seattle high school. "That would be a dream come true playing next to Double D."
"Double D" is, of course, the Pittsburgh Steelers' starting right guard. Their left guard position is open, as of now, because they're letting starter Ramon Foster test the market. Foster could return, but he's likely to find a suitor who'll pay more as the Steelers look for more mobility at the position.
His departure would leave the Steelers with interior reserves Cody Wallace and B.J. Finney, who signed with the Steelers' practice squad last season for regular-roster money. And the Steelers would also be looking for a rookie to add to the mix, and Garnett just might be a guy whom they could plug and play on Day One.
Could Garnett imagine two mobile and powerful Stanford guards getting out in front of a sweep or a screen?
"That'd be wild, me and DeCastro," Garnett said. "If they got DeCastro and I out in space, you may see two souls getting run through."
Garnett would come at a heavy price. The Outland Trophy winner as college football's best interior lineman checked into the Combine at 6-4, 312 with 34-inch arms and a great mind, which he flashed during his media interview.
"I feel like my strengths are my ability to finish blocks and my ability to get into blocks," he said. "That was something I really prided myself in, my ability to down block, my pulling ability, my ability to get on blocks and really finish people. That’s something that teams are really interested in, my aggressiveness. Something I need to work on, conversely, is not being too aggressive in pass-pro situations. I want to just lock on somebody and finish them."
The human biology major also has big plans for his life's work.
"I want to be a trauma surgeon after football's all done and over with," he said. "I worked in a stem cell biology lab this past summer, did a stint in an ER for some shadowing. I just love being able to see the high-intensity environment. Everyone’s working together.
"You have your quarterback, who's the head doctor. You have the nurses, kind of the offensive linemen doing the dirty work but aren't getting all the credit for it. But everyone is real locked in and they're working as a team. That's something I saw myself doing everyday with my teammates on the football field."
If Garnett isn't the first guard drafted in April, Cody Whitehair of Kansas State will be. His allure for the Steelers would be his versatility.
While Garnett would be drafted to fill a specific need, Whitehair might be more practical. He spent his last two seasons at left tackle, two spots down from Finney in 2014. But even as a more lean 6-4, 301-pounder, Whitehair's 32 1/2 inch arms say he projects better inside.
"Probably guard," Whitehair said of his best pro position. "I would say guard, but at the end of the day I think I can play both guard and tackle. If somebody needed me to play center, I feel like I can master that as well.”
Of his old teammate, Finney, who, along with Wallace, gives the Steelers all they need as depth behind Maurkice Pouncey at center, Whitehair said, "B.J. was a hard worker. I haven’t really talked to him lately. I know he just got married, so I'm really happy for him."
Whitehair would give the Steelers the mobility at left guard they desire to run their zone-blocking schemes under Mike Munchak. To that end, Arizona State left guard Christian Westerman (6-3, 298, 33 1/2-inch arms) might provide great value in the second round.
And if the Steelers are more interested in finding a less polished but more physical specimen, Texas A&M right tackle Germain Ifedi -- 6-6, 324 with long 36-inch arms -- would also interest them in the second round.
With bigger needs on defense and at tight end, a middle-round lineman such as Graham Glasgow of Michigan would make more sense. Glasgow said the Steelers talked to him at both the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl. The 6-6 center weighed into the Combine at 307 with 33 1/2-inch arms.
"I played right tackle when I first got to college," Glasgow explained. "But we had two really good tackles in Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield, so we didn't need backup tackles, we needed guards and centers. I switched to guard and then they wanted to try me at center. They liked it so I just kept rolling with it."
Glasgow said he hasn't heard anything negative about his height in the pivot, and played well at the Senior Bowl. He had listed Penn State's Austin Johnson as the best Glasgow had faced until that week in Mobile.
"Sheldon Rankins was pretty good," Glasgow said of the Louisville nose tackle. "He's just real good. He's big and quick. ... Never seen a nose tackle spin move. Never seen that."null