The third day of the NFL draft is a long, tiring experience for any fan. But it’s especially longer when your favorite team’s first pick won’t come until late in the fifth round. After focusing purely on defense in the first three rounds - something the team had to do - the Dolphins needed day three to focus on the weakest area of the offense: guard.
There were some guys out there, but there were two names that I had interest in: Dorian Johnson and Isaac Asiata. Both guys were day two prospects that fell due to some medical concerns. The Arizona Cardinals took a chance on Johnson in the fourth round at pick 115, 51 picks before Miami was slated to pick. At that point, I started getting a little concerned. Asiata was the guy I wanted Miami to take and 51 picks was too many picks to wait for my tastes. I wanted the Dolphins to use that bevy of fifth rounders to move up and take Asiata. But they didn’t.
The fourth round ended and Asiata was still there. NOW was the time to move up. But the Dolphins waited and waited. And I grew more concerned. FINALLY, Miami popped up on the NFL Network ticker, but there were still several picks before they picked. Miami decided enough was enough and moved up two spots to 164. After nearly three hours of Dolphin-less coverage, Miami was on the clock and the pick was in. Could it be??? Who did they want that they traded up for?
BOOM!!! The Dolphins got the guard I wanted them to get. I won’t lie... I did a little fist pump when I saw the pick. Miami could have gotten a solid piece for their offensive line that needed all the interior help it could get. This was my favorite pick in the draft, and I really liked the other picks. To top it off, he had a great quote in his media session after getting picked:
“I believe that an offensive lineman needs to play with intellectuality and brutality. He needs to be smart and he also needs to put guys in the dirt. That is the kind of style of play that I bring to the table, and I am ready to bring that down to Miami.”
To quote the Coach Lou Brown, “My kinda team Charlie. It’s my kinda team.”
- He wins at the point of attack. In the two games I watched (that’s all I really needed), he rarely, if ever, lost when he engaged a defender. Once he latched on, it was over.
- He anchors well in pass protection. Everything I had read about Asiata suggested he was more geared for the running game, but his pass protection was solid.
- He keeps his head on a swivel in pass protection. He’s always looking for guys slipping free from blocks or unblocked defenders if he doesn’t have an assignment.
- He wants to hit. There will be no more of this “Tannehill on the turf while his OL stands around twiddling their thumbs” mess. If Asiata isn’t helping a teammate off the turf, it’s because he’s looking for someone to block.
- He’s a bulldozer. He likes to drive defenders as far back as he can before planting them in the dirt.
- He’s strong. He had the most reps of 225 lbs. of any offensive lineman at the combine (35!) and tied with Auburn’s Carl Lawson for most overall. But he’s not just weight room strong, his strength and power are evident on the field.
- He plays with a nasty streak. What I saw on film was a guy cut from the mold of the old school offensive line where they aren’t content with just blocking you, they want you to have a really bad day. Asiata is not dirty by any means. But he will make sure you he’s got your attention. The Dolphins OL lacked some nasty. They don’t anymore.
- Despite having a typical guard body (6’3”, 323 lbs.), he’s got long arms (33 & 3/4”). That’s an inch and half longer arms than Forrest Lamp, the top guard prospect in this draft.
- He is hyper-aggressive and it causes him to play off-balance. There were times, especially in the Washington game I watched, that his desire to hit a defender caused him to end up on the ground. He will need to play with more control. NFL defensive linemen will take advantage of this (as Washington’s NFL caliber DTs sometimes did).
- He propensity for hitting sometimes means he loses technique on blocks. There were a number of times on film where he lowered his shoulder like a fullback to make a crushing hit, rather than trust his technique and block cleaner (although, if Gase decided to line him up at fullback for a few plays, I would TOTALLY love that!)
- Even though he’s attentive in pass protection, I think he could improve his awareness of stunts/twists.
- He has the athleticism to get to the second level, but he struggled at times to identify and make blocks on moving targets. He’s fine at the line of scrimmage, but he’ll need to work on making better blocks when he gets to the second level.
- His cut blocks need work.
Here is a play that shows his balance issues.
Having fired off the line of scrimmage, he meets a defender. Instead of getting his hands on him, he appeared to throw an arm/shoulder at the guy, looking to make a hit.
The result was Asiata getting off-balance and ending up on the ground. This may be due to the fact that Washington has an NFL caliber interior defensive line. It appeared he wanted to be the aggressor and take the fight to them. In the California game, he was much more balanced. Now to the good Asiata.
This is a pass play for Utah. Again, Asiata is looking to make someone pay. And did they ever.
Asiata, highlighted by the blue arrow, doesn’t have an initial defender to block. He starts looking for work and doesn’t have to wait long. The defensive tackle, highlighted by the black arrow, starts to spin into Asiata’s area.
Asiata wasn’t having any of that and knocks that guy to the turf.
Asiata wasn’t about to let that be the end of it. He stands over the defender in case he stands up and tries again. The defender does and Asiata continues blocking him.
This is a great show of Asiata’s strength and power. He’s facing Washington’s defensive tackle lined up as the 3-tech.
This is a read-option run play for Utah. Highlighted by the blue arrow is the moment Asiata and the tackle meet. They engage just behind the line of scrimmage.
This is where they end up. Asiata drives the tackle about three yards back away from the play. Who is that defensive tackle? That’s Elijah Qualls, the 6’1”, 313 lb. behemoth that was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the sixth round of this draft. Asiata moved a dude that size with relative ease.
Here is a run play against Cal. He is lined up against #97 (Tony Mekari). He gives Mekari a bad day all game long.
The two players meet at the line of scrimmage.
This is where the defensive tackle disengages. It’s only 5 yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
Ok, I’m going to save the best for last. This play made me sit up in my chair.
This is a run play and you can see Asiata executing a skip pull here. He’s about to take out a linebacker.
Here he meets the linebacker about 2 yards past the line of scrimmage. His running back is following the block, a yard behind the line of scrimmage.
Good night! Asiata crushed that linebacker. The running back is already one yard past the line to gain and picks up even more yards thanks to breaking a few tackles. The question I have for you guys is this: Do you think Jay Ajayi will like running behind blocks like this?
Isaac Asiata has all the tools to become a successful guard in the NFL. He may never become a household name, but he can certainly lock down the left side along with sophomore Laremy Tunsil. Will Asiata start week one? I don’t know. He will have to get the zone concepts down pat, although I’m sure that collegiate offensive linemen have seen everything at this point. He will also have to play with controlled aggression. I have a feeling that this guy will end up with a few training camp fights with defensive linemen. If he can refine a few things and tame the aggression, there isn’t any reason why he can’t be a quality starter for this team early on, if not week one.
All videos courtesy of draftbreakdown.com.
After this post, I’m passing the baton to Josh Houtz and SUTTON and they will finish up the draft picks. I hope you have enjoyed these post and more importantly, enjoyed watching film of new Miami Dolphins.