By Kip Earlywine
Official 40: 5.26
(note, in this senior bowl video, Iupati plays both RG and LG. Look for the guy with the big hair)
- Love his nastiness and intensity. He plays angry.
- Very rare combination of size, power, athleticism, and effort
- Is at times utterly dominating in the run game
- Good angle blocker and could fit in both man and zone schemes
- Still lots of room for improvement- all-pro potential
- Long arms
- No character concerns, seems like a very nice and humble guy
- Stands straight up when blocking, has leverage issues; not a natural knee bender
- Relies on upper body strength too much and often forgets to chop feet in stalemates
- Hand use needs work
- Not the quickest feet
- Can be beaten in pass pro
- Definitely not a left tackle but could be drafted as one (like Branden Albert was)
- Didn't utterly dominate at Senior Bowl like he did against WAC competition
I couldn't find a good compilation video to link, but some of you may have seen clips of Iupati on NFL network and ESPN. Against WAC competition, he's simply a man amongst boys. He tosses defensive linemen around like rag-dolls and he even has his moments against stronger competition (USC). Iupati is a relentless run-blocker. His passion for the game and intensity reminds me of Aaron Curry's. However, Iupati's success came against one of the weaker division I conferences, and because of that, the Senior Bowl was pretty huge for him. I know a lot of commentators raved about Iupati at the Senior Bowl, but I thought his performance was a bit of a mixed bag, personally. He gave up an easy sack and had an obvious hold that wasn't called on another play. In the running game, he was stonewalled on the majority of plays and while Iupati fights hard, he's not skilled at breaking stonewalls. He did have a couple pancakes though, which is pretty impressive given Senior Bowl competition.
Given how impressive Iupati can be at times, I was very surprised to see how poor his footwork and leverage are. He stands straight up in run blocking, and in pass blocking he only barely bends his knees. He has a nice nasty streak in the running game but I noticed he tends to use his arms to finish blocks instead of his legs. If he can be taught to play lower and rely on his lower body more, his potential in the running game is Hutch-like. Hutch however, was and is a first rate pass protector, and Iupati has some issues. In addition to the lack of knee bend, he doesn't move his feet enough and once a defender manages a swim on him, he's in trouble. Anyone that thinks Iupati is an NFL left tackle probably doesn't know what they are talking about.
I think Iupati is ideal as a RG in the NFL. His pass protection isn't terrible, but his skillset is clearly more run oriented, and the right side of the line tends to be side teams place the tight end most plays and its considered the running side of an offensive line. This coincides with a need by Seattle. The zone scheme running game lives off of runs up the middle, and a Iupati/Spencer (or Unger)/Sims interior would be elite in the running game. Seattle really doesn't have a right guard at the moment, though finding an adequate one shouldn't be hard for Gibbs. If Iupati falls to #40 (doubtful), he should be considered and would provide a huge boost to the running game. I probably wouldn't take him at #14 though, I think that would be a bit of a reach, and there are other areas of bigger need with players of greater value that should be expected to be there.