I'll be taking a rare opportunity to watch Idaho this evening - they're facing Bowling Green in the Humanitarian Bowl and I've got access. The main focus of my attention will be guard Mike Iupati - someone who's become increasingly highly rated. Rob Rang was the first person I noticed touting Iupati's qualities, putting him in the middle of round one in some of his earlier mock drafts.
"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. 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." - Rob Rang, CBS Sportsline
It's worth checking out our resident scout Kyle Rota's thoughts on Iupati. Rota: "All in all, Iupati is a prospect I am very excited about. His size and athleticism, combined with a fairly nasty demeanor and a great ability to adjust to linebackers, makes him a top prospect. If Iupati is available with Seattle's second pick, I'd run to the podium to make the selection. If Seattle can find a partner desiring a top ten pick, I'd consider trading down as well to take Iupati with Seattle's first pick."
I'll have some thoughts on Iupati's performance against Bowling Green on the blog later, so stay tuned for that.
Another story that's rearing it's head this week is the future of Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett. He's long been the X Factor of this draft since Jake Locker made his position clear that he'd be returning to Washington. Mallett has first round tools - big arm, size. He hasn't got first round polish and I've got serious reservations about his accuracy - it's been very inconsistent this year particularly against the better opponents.
Mallett was late to a team meeting recently and all the talk at the moment is that he's destined to declare for the draft. I've consistently said on this blog that I expected one of Locker or Mallett to do so. Question marks remain about Sam Bradford's ability to stay healthy, I don't think Jimmy Clausen warrants top of round one consideration and after that - there's not much else. The opening is there for a quarterback to step in and potentially make themselves a lot of money.
Now - that won't necessarily happen for Mallett. He's a project - his footwork is poor and he wouldn't be able to take snaps under center today. He needs to prove he can make the simple shot yardage throws to go along to the big bombs downfield. But essentially he has what NFL teams have started to look for in first round draft picks.
Chris Low from ESPN's SEC Blog says he expects Mallett to declare. Chris Bahn reports that the former Michigan signal caller has sought opinion on his potential draft stock and may be leaning towards turning pro. I think it's basically a matter of time now until Mallet makes his decision. Would the Seahawks show any interest?
There's some interesting news out of Tulsa today - Russell Okung (OT, Oklahoma State) has injured his knee and will likely miss the Cotton Bowl. Okung hasn't suffered any serious injuries in his career to date and it's unknown just how bad this one is. If it's bad news, it could be a very unfortunate injury to suffer just one game prior to the end of his college days. I've previously suggested I think Okung is slightly over rated and worthy of only mid-late first round consideration. Knee injuries will make that more likely to happen rather than the top ten pick a lot of people suggest. However - we'll have to wait and see how bad this issue is and whether it will have any impact on his draft stock.
Finally, don't forget to check out two previous articles from the last 24 hours - news on the Seahawks potentially checking on Tennessee safety Eric Berry and some premature talk on what the team might do in the 2010 draft under a new GM.
*UPDATE* - Brian Price just announced he'll declare for the 2010 draft. No surprises there. I watched him in action last night and clearly he has some value as a pure three technique. I'd be surprised if Seattle invested a first round pick in him simply because he's too similar to Brandon Mebane without having the elite potential of a Suh or McCoy. He spent a lot of time yesterday leaving the field with injuries - that could be a concern - and he is inconsistent (unblockable sometimes, easily dealt with on other occasions). I think he's a mid first rounder.