Mike Iupati

Mike-Iupati

Offensive Guard

Idaho

Senior

6’5”, 325 lbs

Strengths: Mobility, Strength, Run Blocking, Pass Blocking

Weaknesses: Mechanics, Hands, Locating Blocks

By Bryan Dietzler

NFL teams will be foaming at the mouth to get a chance at selecting Iupati who could very easily be the best guard on the NFL draft.  Not too many guards get selected in the first round of the draft but this guy just may end up being a rare exception to a long standing rule.  He has everything that an NFL team would want in a starting guard and could be a solid starter right out of the gate.

So what makes Iupati so special?  First of all, he has great size for the guard position standing six feet five inches.  This allows him to dominate defenders and he has proven time and time again that his size is his greatest strength. He also has some room to grow which is even better news for many NFL scouts.  In using his size, Iupati is able to move defenders in the direction that he wants them to go and thus take them out of the play.  He has long arms as well and this helps him redirect defenders as needed.  Iupati doesn’t carry a lot of fat on his frame like offensive linemen typically do and is very muscular.  This is clearly a huge plus as well.

Iupati is also a very strong player whose strength compares greatly to players at the same position in the NFL.  His legs are huge and powerful and he has great drive down the field in the running game while using his legs as a base to help drive defenders back and around.  There is even some room for him to get stronger (and bigger) which should be a huge plus to the NFL team that selects him.  He also has great strength in his hands and arms and can easily control opponents because of this. 

Iupati is pretty quick off the ball and is usually able to get low on opponents and drive them wherever he wants them to go.  He does all this despite his overall lack of speed.  He moves very fast from a three point stance into position (to take on blockers) and gets moving forward quickly.  Iupati is also well adept at getting out during sweeps and getting ahead to block.  He doesn’t waste too many steps getting around to the front either during sweeps. 

In regards to some of the mechanics of his blocking style, Iupati displays good knee bend and balance.  He has a great initial punch and will finish blocks all the time.  In pass protection, Iupati displays great footwork and keeps his feet moving at all times.  He also blocks well against stunts and is very well adept at helping out in pass blocking.  He also sets defensive linemen back on their heels when he delivers the initial blow while pass blocking knocking them off of their rhythm.  In terms of his balance, Iupati has solid balance and doesn’t get pushed around.  His feet are always on the ground.

When it comes to run blocking Iupati is going to be one of the more dominant players in that capacity to come out in this year’s draft.  He uses his size and power effectively to help block down on opponents in the running game and no one can move him.  He ties up defenders well and moves them away from the hole leaving it open for the running back to get through on a consistent basis.  He won’t get pushed around either thanks to his wide base and leg strength. 

Some of the other positive things that Iupati does on the mental side of the game include being able to recognize where defenders are coming at him from before the play.  Many considered Iupati to be the best offensive lineman on the field when he played. 

The downside to Iupati begins with some of the finer points of his game.  While he does stay on blocks long he doesn’t stay on them long enough sometimes and needs to stick with the guy until the play is over and the whistle has blown.  There are times when he will block one man and then move on to another and does this often.  Iupati will also try to move around in space and not remain in one area to block. 

Iupati has a hard time blocking people when his target is in motion and this will affect him on sweep plays in the NFL.  Along with this he also has problems getting to linebackers when playing in space.  He also needs to get greater knee bend and work lower with his pad level.  If he doesn’t do that he will get tossed aside by bigger NFL defensive linemen.  NFL teams may also want to have him try out at tackle and if he does he will have a learning curve there.  That may set back his development time some. 

Iupati needs to work on not relying so much on strength to defeat defenders but use more finesse.  If he gets overpowered he may not be able to finesse a defender enough to allow him not to beat him.  While he has solid hands, he needs to use them better in pass protection and will have to work on that in order to be successful.  Some have criticized his lack of power at times and he has been pushed around by some smaller defenders but he can overcome that and improve.  Iupati needs to work on getting a better knee bend when he blocks so that defenders don’t get themselves under his pads.

In terms of some of the technical points of his game, Iupati needs to work on placing his hands in a better position when blocking.  He should also look to keep his arms up and in contact with the defender.  Iupati also needs to work on sinking his hips and will have to work on that in order not to lose balance. 

While at Idaho, Iupati gained the following honors:

2009-Outland Trophy Watch List, Lombardi Watch List, Rivals.com first team All-Conference. 

Iupati went to Western High School in Anaheim California.  He was named All-State and All-Conference while in high school.

Final Word: Iupati is clearly the top rated guard prospect in the 2010 NFL Draft and could easily be selected in the first round.  There is some talk of him possibly moving to offensive tackle but his best position and the one that he will get drafted as is guard.  If he is put at offensive tackle the learning curve may be a little too much for him to start.  He has the experience that teams would like to see in an NFL ready offensive lineman and will be a starter right away.

Predicted Pick-1st Round between 17 and 32.