Tag:Mike Iupati
Posted on: November 5, 2010 9:59 pm
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Five Prospects I'll Be Focusing On Saturday

Each week I list the five prospects that I'll be focusing on. In reality, I'm focusing on dozens of prospects each week, but the players listed below are playing in high profile games and against the caliber of competition that I believe provides us with an opportunity to truly assess how a collegiate player might fare when asked to make the huge jump to the NFL.

Typically I focus on senior prospects in this space. However, with it becoming more and more obvious as to which underclassmen are considering the jump to the pros, I'll be incorporating a few more juniors and redshirt sophomores in the coming weeks.

Those interested in scouting "alongside" me can follow me on Twitter @RobRang.

Without any further adieu, here are the five prospects, as well as the cable provider and time you can expect to see them.

WR Julio Jones, Alabama : For some, the one on one showdown between Randy Moss and Darrelle Revis was the best wide receiver-cornerback battle of the year. For me, this is the matchup I've been waiting to see. Jones and Peterson each played well in their matchup last year. Jones may have had the more impressive statistics (four catches for 102 yards, including a 73 yard touchdown), but none of these grabs came against Peterson, who finished with three tackles and three passes broken up despite battling cramps. The fact that I have Peterson going No. 2 overall in my first round mock draft (higher than any cornerback has ever gone) gives you an ideal as to how high the LSU corner ranks on my board. That said, I'm higher than most on Jones, as well. He isn't as polished as some of the other highly touted wideouts due to Alabama's reliance on the running game, but I've seen improvements in his route-running this season and I love the size, strength and toughness he brings to the position. The toughest adjustment most collegiate receivers have to make when going to the NFL is handling the added physicality of the pro grame. I characterized Hakeen Nicks (over the more highly touted Crabtree, Maclin, Harvin, etc.) as the rookie wideout likeliest to have the greatest immediate impact two years ago due to his physicality and body control. I see a similiar skill set in Jones. This game will be televised by CBS and will begin at 3:30 pm EST.

QB Andy Dalton, TCU
: The fact that No. 3 TCU is heading to No. 5 Utah for a game with legitimate BCS implications and yet only minimal television coverage is precisely what is wrong with the inequity of today's college football system. If this were a showdown among two undefeated teams in an automatic qualifier conference like the Big Ten, ACC or SEC this would unquestionably be the biggest game of the weekend. Instead, only those of us fortunate enough to have CBS' College Sports channel will get to watch what could be an instant classic. TCU has based a great deal of their success over the years on their defense, but if they are to win this game, Dalton will have to play well. He didn't last year in the Fiesta Bowl loss to Boise State. This game is particularly interesting for Dalton due to the fact that his favorite receiver, senior Jeremy Kerley will often be covered by Utah junior cornerback Brandon Burton -- one of the best, if underrated young corners in the country. This game will be televised by CBS College Sports and will begin at 3:30 pm EST.

SS Shiloh Keo, Idaho: Some questioned our sanity when NFLDraftScout.com rated former Vandal guard Mike Iupati as a potential first round pick before last season even began. Their safety, Shiloh Keo also popped off the tape and began this year among our top five prospects at the position. Like many of you, I haven't seen much of Keo thus far this season. That is because I've been waiting to see him in coverage against a dynamic offense. With Colin Kaepernick and the No. 3 nationally rated Nevada offense coming to town, Keo will have the opportunity to answer questions about his coverage skills. This game won't get mentioned by many, but in terms of a player's stock, few games will be bigger than this one is for Keo. This game will be televised by televised by ESPN and will begin at 5:00 pm EST.

OLB Akeem Ayers, UCLA:
At 6-4, 254 pounds, Bruins' junior outside linebacker Akeem Ayers is as gifted an outside linebacker prospect as there is in the entire country. The Bruins have struggled with consistency this season, but Ayers has been one of the few bright spots. His numbers (45 tackles, seven tackles for loss, three sacks) aren't eye-popping, but scouts love his versatility and upside. I'm very interested to see how Ayers performs against Oregon State this weekend. The Beavers may lack the big play offense of their arch rival Ducks, but their pro-style offense and the excellent running of junior back Jacquizz Rodgers will be a truer test of Ayers' talents. This game will be televised by Versus and will begin at 7:00 pm EST.

QB Nick Foles, Arizona: Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck will get all of the hype leading up to this contest and for good reason. However, I've spoken to NFL scouts that are very intrigued with Foles, as well. Foles, a junior, was leading the Pac-10 in passing yards per game before sustaining the knee injury that kept him sidelined for the past two weeks. Like most quarterbacks operating out of the spread offense, most of Foles' passes are in the short to intermediate range -- precisely the areas that Stanford's 3-4 defense is designed to counter. If Arizona is going to beat Stanford this week, Foles will have to play well and he may have to attack downfield. How he performs in that test may determine if he is a legitimate top 50 prospect or just another product of the spread offense. This game will be televised by ABC/ESPN and will begin at 8:00 pm EST.


Posted on: September 21, 2010 1:43 pm
 

Impressive rookie Lions: Best, Suh tops this week

Each Tuesday I'll list two first year players -- one on offense, one from the defense -- as my official NFLDraftScout.com's Rookies of the Week.

Various rookies enjoyed strong performances in Week One. On offense, Denver wideout Demaryius Thomas had a strong first game to his NFL career against the Seahawks with 98 receiving yards and a touchdown. Dallas' Dez Bryant, who I recognized last week in this space as a "honorable mention" Rookie of the Week, enjoyed a strong second game as well, with 52 receiving yards and a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears. I try to look beyond just the "skill" position players for these awards and I was mightily impressed with the drive blocking of San Francisco left guard Mike Iupati last night against the Saints, as well as that of Pittsburgh center Maurkice Pouncey in the Steelers' win over the Titans.

In the end, however, this week's Offensive Rookie of the Week was a no-brainer.  

Though his Detroit Lions lost to the Eagles Sunday, Jahvid Best was absolutely electric. He had 232 total yards from scrimmage (17 attempts for 78 rushing yards and nine receptions for 154 yards) and scored three more touchdowns. His five touchdowns over the first two weeks of the season lead the NFL. Some anticipated that an athletic and aggressive Philadelphia defense would tee off on Best considering the marginal downfield passing of Detroit backup quarterback Shaun Hill. With the Eagles crowding the line of scrimmage against the run, Hill simply found Best as an outlet receiver. Once in the open field, Best's agility and straight-line speed make him a matchup nightmare. Best is the first rookie to score five touchdowns in his first two NFL games since another Lion, Billy Simms, accomplished the feat 30 years ago.

On the defensive side of the ball, there were again several worthy candidates, though in my opinion this week's award was just as much a no-brainer. Sean Weatherspoon (Falcons), Koa Misi (Dolphins) and last week's honoree T.J. Ward (Browns) were impressive again. I was also impressed with the coverage supplied by Denver cornerback Perrish Cox. His coverage helped shut down the Seahawks reclamation project, Mike Williams, and his interception of Matt Hasselbeck ended any chance of a Seahawk comeback.

However, Ndamukong Suh proved to be every bit the dominant player against the Eagles we projected he'd be in the NFL. Suh posted eight tackles -- second most in the league by an interior defensive lineman -- and recorded his second sack in as many games. The Lions featured Suh and Best on the same play twice Sunday, with Suh lining up as Best's fullback.

Posted on: April 22, 2010 9:40 pm
Edited on: April 22, 2010 10:41 pm
 

San Francisco building their running game

The San Francisco 49ers might be pulling away from the competition in the wide-open NFC West with their reinforcements along the offensive line.

While the general perception among NFL followers might be that the 49ers have enjoyed a stout rushing attack with Frank Gore, San Francisco had struggled in short yardage situations and wanted to get more physical up front.

The team aggressively moved up for former Rutgers' tackle Anthony Davis with 11th pick, swapping with the Denver Broncos. Davis, who some offensive line coaches feel has the most upside as a pass blocker in this draft, gives San Francisco as athletic a pair of offensive tackles as there is in the league with Joe Staley.

The concern with Davis has been maturity. Considering the gains head coach Mike Ditka Singletary has made with Vernon Davis, he could be one of the best able to motivate him to achieve his potential.

Mike Iupati, however, might be the more intriguing pick due to his ability to generate movement in short yardage situations. For all of his hype, Iupati was exposed a bit at the Senior Bowl for some struggles in pass protection. Considering the athleticism of San Francisco's tackles, however, his limited flexibility and reliance on his upper body strength as a pass blocker can be effectively contained.

Posted on: February 25, 2010 3:48 pm
 

Iupati - big, physical, aggressive -- why not DT?


Idaho's Mike Iupati, NFLDraftScout.com's top rated offensive guard for the past several months has the athletic ability and long reach to consider moving outside to tackle.

But, considering his massive frame, strength, aggression and quick feet, doesn't a move to the defensive side of the ball also possible?

"Big Mike" certainly thinks so:

"I really love defense," Iupati said during the interview session at the Combine. "That's my favorite passion of the game of football. I know I'm very physical and can hold up two gaps and take double teams, stuff like that. I always tried to push my [Idaho] coach to make me a defensive player because I know I am pretty good at that. But they like me at offensive line. It's kind of hard in college to play both ways. They did put me on the goal line (defense)."

Despite his passion and obvious physical attributes, Iupati has not been asked by any NFL scouts, thus far, about moving to the defensive side of the ball.

"I guess they think I'm good at guard and don't want to move me," he said.

Iupati is a talented guard prospect and considering his relative inexperience (started playing football in high school), it might be too much to try to switch him to a different position just as he is about to enter the pros. Should he struggle with the greater focus on technique that will be required for success in the NFL, however, a switch to the defensive side of the ball is a potential option to consider.
Posted on: January 30, 2010 5:32 pm
 

South's DT Atkins, Williams taking over

North defensive end Austin Lane made the big splash, recovering a fumble and returning it for a touchdown, but the two most impressive players thus far in the 2010 Senior Bowl have been Tennessee and Georgia defensive tackles, Dan Williams and Geno Atkins, respectively.

The two are a study in contrast. Scouts know the 6-2, 330 pound Williams is stout in the middle, but he's helped his cause today with his attention to detail in the passing game, latching on to running back Lonyae Miller to destroy a potential screen before it could begin and getting his hands up in the passing lane (knocked down one pass so far).

Atkins' game is his burst and lateral agility. He's the quickest defensive tackle off the snap in the country and his burst has given the North guards problems all day long, including Idaho's Mike Iupati.
Posted on: January 27, 2010 1:25 pm
 

Impressions of the North OL

In my second day of scouting the North squad, I elected to focus on the big men in the trenches, paying special attention to the so-called "small-school" offensive linemen.

Idaho's Mike Iupati is beginning to prove to the rest of the country what NFLDraftScout.com has been saying all year long -- he's the best guard in the 2010 draft and a potential first round pick.

Iupati has surprisingly quick feet and balance for a man of his size. The leverage issues that had occasionally come up on film are being corrected by the Detroit Lions staff. His great strength and quick hands allow him to control his opponent easily. He showed good recognition when the North defensive line began running twists, sliding quickly to switch off from the defensive tackle to the hard-changing defensive end.

Massachusetts' Vladimir DuCasse has great potential, but he is still far from a finished product. He's quick into his pass set, but too quickly stops moving his feet and, as such, is susceptiple to speed rushers and spins back inside. The Detroit Lions staff kept the game's best pass rusher, Michigan's Brandon Graham,  operating on the other side, as DuCasse had more than enough to handle operating against Murray State's Austen Lane. His long arms, good bend and strong anchor mean he should be able to help immediately at guard with longterm potential to move back outside to tackle.

Considering the bowl success, Utah is far from a small school, but Zen Beadles struggled badly today at right guard. The former left tackle hasn't shown quick enough feet or strong enough hands to handle a strong rotation at defensive tackle that included Penn State's Jared Odrick and Louisiana Tech's D'Anthony Smith. Odrick, in particular, owned Beadles on this day.


Posted on: December 30, 2009 1:22 pm
 

Don't miss out on top rated OG Iupati today

The Idaho Vandals rarely make national television and thus, NFLDraftScout.com's top rated offensive guard Mike Iupati is one of the more unknown prospects to most fans.

Fans will get an opportunity to watch Iupati today against Bowling Green in the Humanitarian Bowl at 4:30 EST on ESPN.

The 6-5, 330 monster lines up at left guard and wears #77.

Iupati was born in American Samoa and struggled making the academic standard initially due to his late start on learning the English language. Bigger teams knew of him and recruited him, but thought he was a risk due to the fact that he was a partial qualifier academically. Thus, Idaho got a rare ultra-talented propect.

Iupati is a road-grader in the running game. He uses his rare size and strength to simply overpower most defenders. What makes him so unique, however, is how light on his feet he can be. Iupati can pull around the edge and hit the roaming linebacker at the second level. He can adjust in pass protection to surprise blitzes.

He has the talent to do it all at the NFL level, as well, which is why he's ranked as NFLDraftScout.com's top-ranked senior guard since October.

At this point, Iupati remains a work in progress technique-wise. He is so used to dominating his opponents with just his size and strength that he fails to move his feet laterally and lets smaller DTs get their hands into his chest and bullrush him.

Coaches at Idaho rave about Iupati's character. With NFL-caliber coaching and a strong work ethic, he could prove worthy of a first round grade -- a few OGs deserve that -- especially in a class as loaded as the 2010 crop.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com