Matt Barrows had a piece today about the rookie offensive linemen "experiment" and how they've fared so far in 2010. As part of that piece Barrows linked to a Pro Football Focus offering that ranks this year's rookies, with our very own Mike Iupati coming in at #2 amongst first year players thus far.
PFF's article also goes on to say they have Iupati ranked as the NFL's 5th best guard "regardless of size" (that part I don't understand completely). I've been known to re-watch some games this year and generally one of the times I do so for each game...I'm looking at the OL. I would have to say that Iupati hasn't stood out to me lately, which is actually a good thing for a guard.
Iupati's pass blocking has really improved this year as I've not seen much pressure come through his area of late. His run blocking has always been good though he, like the rest of his line-mates, could stand to work on drive blocking (shoving his man down the field rather than simply engaging him). Still, for a 330lb. man...boy he can move.
If you watch "Big Mike" on a G-Power play (where he pulls) you will see him explode out of his stance and move down the line of scrimmage at blazing speed towards the hole. He's also usually found down-field on longer runs, still looking for people to shove. This is something he and fellow rookie Anthony Davis both share and I absolutely love it.
Iupati reminds me a little bit of the center in Necessary Roughness (you know, that horrible movie with Scott Bakula). He's quiet, but I think he'd literally smash a fool's face in if you mess with his teammates. Plus, well, he's a Pacific Islander as was the gentleman who played that role in the movie - Peter Tuiasosopo.
At any rate, silly movies aside (ok, I actually like that movie...sue me!) this is really encouraging to hear others recognize how well Iupati's playing. Most of us suspected he'd be the more polished, pro-ready player between the two first-round picks...and it's nice to see one of your draft picks paying dividends early on in their career.