Rookie Watch: Iupati finding his way
At Idaho, Mike Iupati was bigger, stronger and much more talented overall than the defensive linemen he was asked to block. He made it look easy -- and he's extremely naturally gifted.
But his technique needed a lot of work. At the Senior Bowl, against much better competition, it became clear Iupati was a grabber who often had his hands too wide -- which resulted in holding calls. Pass protection in general was a work in progress, but that didn't stop Iupati from being an immediate starter at guard for San Francisco.
And although he had (and still does have) some learning to do, Iupati has steadily improved throughout the season. As a run-blocker, he is already outstanding. He moves and pulls extremely well, often engulfs his opponent and is a finisher who enjoys burying his opponent. Pro Bowls are in Iupati's future.
|Ranking||Player, position (draft position)||Last week|
|Sam Bradford, Rams QB (first round, No. 1)
Bradford has not thrown a touchdown pass in any of his past three games and looks to be finally hitting the Rookie Wall.
|Ndamukong Suh, Lions DT (first round, No. 2)
The Lions finally won on the road!
|Devin McCourty, Patriots CB (first round, No. 27)
McCourty was great once again and actually made a lot of plays in the run game against Green Bay. The Patriots have found another cornerstone player.
|Joe Haden, Browns CB (first round, No. 7)
Haden continues to display the all-around game that should propel him to be known as one of the better cornerbacks in this league before long.
|Mike Williams, Buccaneers WR (fourth round, No. 101)
Williams had a huge game and was much more than the Lions' secondary could handle.
|Mike Iupati, 49ers G (first round, No. 17);
San Francisco was embarrassed last Thursday night, but Iupati remains a force on this young, improving offensive line.
|Jacoby Ford, Raiders WR (fourth round, No. 108)
As shown by his long run last week, the explosive Ford is instant offense any way he touches the ball. Al Davis must love this guy.
|Lamarr Houston, Raiders DE (second round, No. 44)
The Raiders' draft class has been simply superb. Houston has been consistent against the run and the pass and shows great versatility.
|Maurkice Pouncey, Steelers C (first round, No. 18)
The Steelers lost to the Jets, but led by Pouncey, Pittsburgh's offensive line may have played its best game of the season.
|Rob Gronkowski, Patriots TE (second round, No. 42)
This wasn't Gronkowski's best game, but he is clearly the Pats' top tight end. This is an excellent all-around football player.
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.
NFL WEEK 16 PREVIEW