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Thursday, April 8, 2010
Cowboys draft preview: Mike Iupati

By Tim MacMahon

ESPNDallas.com will look at a potential Cowboys pick each weekday leading up to the draft.

MIKE IUPATI

Size: 6-5 1/8, 331
School: Idaho
Position: Offensive guard
Scouts Inc. rank: No. 1 at position, No. 17 overall (scouting report)

Mike Iupati
Mike Iupati is a raw talent, but the Cowboys would probably have to trade up from No. 27 if they want to draft him.
POSITIVES
Iupati has the prototypical frame and power. He’s a dominant drive blocker who frequently blows defensive tackles off the line of scrimmage, displaying a mean streak. He has impressive mobility and agility for a man his size, making him effective pulling and trapping. His initial punch, long arms and quickness allow him to be an effective pass blocker despite technique that needs polishing. He’s athletic enough that some scouts project him as a tackle.

NEGATIVES
He’s still raw, which is to be expected of a player who didn’t move from Samoa until he was 14, when he started learning English and playing football. Idaho ran a pretty simple offense, so Iupati will have to work hard to adapt to a thick NFL playbook, as well as complicated defensive schemes. His technique needs to be refined. He’s aggressive, but he doesn’t always sustain his blocks. He has a tendency to reach, the result of improper footwork.

COWBOY FIT
If the Cowboys want Iupati, they’d probably have to trade up to the mid-teens. San Francisco and Pittsburgh, who have the Nos. 17 and 18 picks, are among the teams that have shown heavy interest in him. Left guard Kyle Kosier is entering the final season of his contract, so the Cowboys have a need at the position. They could plug in Iupati and have that spot filled for the next decade.

IDAHO OFFENSIVE LINE COACH DAN FINN
“The athletic ability he has for his size is just phenomenal. He has such great feet and moves so well when he’s pulling and getting in space and getting to the second level. And he’s so physically strong at the point of attack. He’s a mauler. He’s going to move the line of scrimmage for you. … He’s a smart kid and he’s going to work at it. He’s a visual guy. He’s going to want to see it done. English is his second language, so sometimes when you tell him things, you have to simplify it. But he’s a smart player. He recognizes stuff. He’d see stuff in pre-snap and come over to the sideline to tell me things. … One of the biggest jumps that he made from his junior year to his senior year was really being technically sound, especially in pass protection. He’s so big and strong that before he’d sometimes drop his head and use it to butt people and not really bend his knees. He got much better, but he can still make a jump with it. There are still some things he does mechanically he can get much better at. That’ll be the difference between him being a good player and a great one. He knows it, too. He wants to be great and will work at it. … A lot of people ask me if he can play tackle. I think his natural spot is guard, and that’s all he played here. If somebody put him at tackle, I think it would be an experiment. I’m not saying he couldn’t do it, but I think he could contribute right away at guard.”