Barry Jackson

Mixed reviews for Dolphins’ fifth-round pick Asiata

From left, Britain Covey, Isaac Asiata and Joe Williams of Utah talk after football practice Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015, in Las Vegas. Utah is scheduled to play BYU Saturday in the Las Vegas Bowl.
From left, Britain Covey, Isaac Asiata and Joe Williams of Utah talk after football practice Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015, in Las Vegas. Utah is scheduled to play BYU Saturday in the Las Vegas Bowl. AP

Feedback on Utah guard Isaac Asiata, who the Dolphins traded up to draft at No. 164 overall on Saturday.

He visited April 5, as we reported at the time, and he is expected to compete with Jermon Bushrod and Ted Larsen for a starting guard spot.

• NFL Net’s Charles Davis: “Will slug with anyone. Knock people over. That type of size and frame helps the Miami run game in a big way.”

• ESPN’s Mel Kiper: “Versatility. He plays left guard, he plays right guard. He’s played right tackle. Problem was inconsistent. On the ground a little too much. Contact rate when blocking on the move needs to get better. A few times he got beat in pass protection. A decent player, not anything to wow you over. I thought maybe a backup in the NFL because he played three different positions. In the Washington game, he got driven back as much as he was [driving people]. Against the better competition and better players, that’s where he struggled.”

• ESPN’s Todd McShay: “I thought he was a mauler on tape with the ability to drive guys off the line of scrimmage. He’s a player who could eventually push for an interior job.”

• Draftnik Tony Pauline said Asiata “shows solid movement skills for a big man.”

• NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein:

STRENGTHS: “Big body for the interior. Adds roster flexibility. Has played both guard spots and can play center if needed. Plays with outstanding aggression on the field. Doesn't just look for extra work, he demands it. Hard worker. Gives maximum effort to take the lead in early portion of a block. Effective lateral skip step puts him in position to make his reach blocks. Rarely gets cheated on initial contact, landing powerful shoulders that jar defenders. Has power to uproot defenders in base blocks. Sets shallow anchor in pass pro against bull rushers. Has reactive quickness to handle blitzes and twists.”

WEAKNESSES: “Playing style can be too frenetic. Will allow his aggression to pull him out of proper blocking position at times. Needs to quiet his flailing hands. Excessive hand fighting prevents him from snatching and securing blocks. Leads with upper body onto second-level blocks and loses balance if he doesn't land a strike. Base narrows as drive blocker and can be thrown off his block upper body tosses from defenders. Lacks body control for sustained engagements.”

SUMMARY: “Aggressive and powerful with an ability to create space for running backs in a power scheme. Asiata isn't a complete stiff from a movement standpoint, but he loses effectiveness the farther he's asked to travel from his home base. He'll fall off of blocks a little earlier than teams will want, but his ability to generate movement combined with his girthy frame means he could become a starter at either guard or center within a couple of years.”

• Pro Football Focus:

What he does best:

Powerful blocker when fully engaged with a defender, once he’s locked on he can really create good movement at the point of attack.... At his best pulling from the backside on power and counter runs to the right; Asiata earned a positive grade on more than 30 percent of his pull blocks compared to 18 percent of his total run blocks. Comfortable in pass protection though he was rarely faced with a speed rusher this season to test his ability against more athletic and skillful rushers.... Never idle in pass protection, when he doesn’t have a defender to block himself he is looking for another block to clean up and take that rusher out of the play.

Biggest concern:

More than half of the 15 pressures (4 sacks, 2 hits, 9 hurries) he allowed came on either stunts, pulls or delayed rushes just a little late into position for his assignment at times.... Prone to ducking his head which led to most of the rest of his pressures allowed but also showed up in the run game over extending into some blocks allowing defenders to work back against his block.

Had some struggles at the second level, failing to close ground to the defender and lunging at the block which allowed smaller defenders he could physically dominate to side step him easily.... When he’s on the backside of zone plays, Asiata struggled to get into position to cut his defender off and seal the backside of the play. Zone blocking in general is an area for improvement in general for Asiata earning positive grades on 17 percent of zone plays compared to 24 percent of gap scheme plays....

Lacked consistency throughout the season, while games against Cal (83.7 overall) and UCLA (91.0 run block) were excellent performances against Southern Utah (53.5 overall), San Jose State (45.9 overall) and Indiana (54.2 overall) raise question marks over his ability to perform week in and week out.

PFF’s Bottom line: “Asiata is a powerful run-blocker and capable pass protector who thrives on situations where a defender stands to fight with him and turn it into a matchup where Asiata can overpower his defender. His excellent work as a pull-blocker makes him an ideal fit for a team that runs a lot of power and counter concepts, adept at both sealing and kicking out defenders on the move. Where Asiata must improve is winning the initial contact to control a defender. When a defender stands to fight Asiata he comes into his own but when a defender tries to play around Asiata or he has to close ground to the defender he is inconsistent at controlling the initial contest to bring his power into play on a more consistent basis.”

• He had seven penalties as a senior, a number that needs to shrink.

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