A few days removed from the 2017 NFL Draft and a surprising selection seems to be making Miami Dolphins fans swoon. In a Draft that saw Miami select Charles Harris in round 1, Raekwon McMillan in the 2nd and Cordrea Tankersley in the 3rd – the name making the most buzz among Dolphins fans is Utah Guard, Isaac Asiata.
Drafted: 5th round, 164th overall
Asiata is a versatile, experienced Offensive Linemen who played predominantly LG at Utah but also played as C, RG and RT. He’s a short, stout lineman who played in 45 games, making 43 starts (39 straight) and was a two-time all-conference offensive guard selection and won the Pac-12’s 2016 Morris Award (Offensive Linemen of the year).
Asiata is an extremely strong run blocker who has a great first-step burst and explodes from a low base to gain leverage. His powerful initial surge makes him perfect for a zone-blocking scheme. In pass protection he is able to anchor and handle interior defensive linemen blow-for-blow on bull rushes and has the foot speed required to slide and shut down speed moves to the inside.
He’s a big body on the interior and plays with outstanding aggression. Asiata described himself as a “hard-nosed football player” and his tape shows a player who relishes the physicality of operating in the trenches. He’s aggressive and powerful with the ability to create caps for running backs in a power or zone-blocking scheme. He posted an NFL combine best 35 reps of 225lbs on the bench press.
Despite a combine best on the bench press, Asiata recorded the slowest 10-yard split (1.97 seconds) of any guard at the combine. This below average quickness indicates that while he looked ok pulling in college, at the NFL level he is unlikely to operate far from the line of scrimmage. He has a tendency to lead with his upper body in the second level, which leads to him losing his balance and missing his block.
Despite all his physicality and toughness, from a measurables stand point, he is small for an NFL guard at 6’3″, 323lbs with 32″ arms. His aggressive style of play, although fun to watch, carries over beyond the whistle and penalties were an issue during college.
How will he fit in Miami
He is an experienced guard who I believe will battle with free agent signing Ted Larsen to start at LG week 1 for the Dolphins.
He’s a snow plow in the run game and after watching the tape it’s easy to envision him, LT Laremy Tunsil and C Mike Pouncey’s plowing opposing linemen out of the way and opening up holes for star RB Jay Ajayi. If Asiata can develop into the physical run blocker I believe he can potentially become, it’ll be fun to watch him, Pouncey, Tunsil and TE Anthony Fasano (PFF’s No.2 ranked run blocking TE in 2016) blocking on outside zone plays.
In the passing game, he can be an asset at a position Miami has routinely struggled to address. Asiata has seen a lot of football and his high football IQ shows. He is wise against stunts and other movements and plays with an excellent pocket awareness, not sinking back too far when anchoring.
Miami may have struck gold on the 24-year old rookie who served a 2-year Mormon mission in Oklahoma. He’s the type of tough, physical guard that Miami needs to beat up opponents and open holes for Jay Ajayi. If Miami can establish themselves on the line of scrimmage and get their running game going, it makes life a whole lot easier for Head Coach Adam Gase to get creative with QB Ryan Tannehill and Miami’s young and talented receiving corps.
We will not know whether this pick pans out until 2-3 years down the road, however, right now it looks like Miami struck gold for a position most believed they would have to give up a 1st Round pick to address.
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