Was asked my thoughts on him and Utah was my home for two weeks this season, as I was impressed with Asiata, Joe Williams & that vastly underrated cornerback Brian Allen (this kid is going to be a monster). Here are parts from my eleven page write-up on who was the BEST Utah OL guy in 2016;
Athletic Ability 7.2 Asiata shows very nice balance and body control for a player with such a thick frame, reminding some of Carolina’s Trai Turner. He has the footwork and short area quickness to mirror edge rushers in pass protection and pick up action in space, thanks to improved kick slide agility. He is a good leverage player who works hard to sustain and possesses decent quickness and balance for his position. He is coordinated, showing quick lateral movement to get out in front and lead on traps and pulls, making some teams to also consider him as an offensive guard. He is only on the ground when he overextends and lunges as a drive blocker, but recovers quickly due to his lower body flexibility. He has shown much better quickness in pass protection since the beginning of his senior year and flashes the ability to move his feet working up field. While he may not have great speed, he can accelerate when running and it is his great balance that keeps him on his target longer than players his size usually do on the move.
Competitiveness 7.9 Asiata is the type that will play until the whistle. He shows very good aggression and effort in his blocks. He might struggle at times to keep his pads down, but does a nice job of using his body to absorb the defender, as he is savvy enough to use his size as a weapon. He has taken the initiative to work on all aspects of his game. You don’t see him get over-aggressive on the field, but he does play with good nastiness. He has a strong hand punch and plays with good consistency (only the second conference player to ever register blocking consistency grades of 90% or better six times in a season). He shows good intensity as a blocker and loves the challenge of one-on-one confrontations. He competes just as hard in practices as he does in games.
Initial Quickness 6.8 Asiata has valid quickness off the snap to reach his blocking point and gain position. He has shown marked improvement moving his feet off the ball and while he protects the inside well, he has enough speed to get to the outside on end-around plays. His quickness is evident by his ability to consistently get off the line with explosion to gain leverage. He flashes a sudden first step, which is rare for a player of his size. He also displays the ability to quickly adjust on the move, doing a nice job when he has to finish or accelerate. What also helps him gain advantage is improved hand placement.
Lateral Movement 6.5 Asiata shows good explosion off the ball, but needs to continue working on playing with a wider base (will sometimes cross his feet on second level blocks). When he gets too narrow, he fails to redirect quickly and can be beaten with an effective cross-over face action.
Balance/Stays On Feet 8.2 This is his best asset. Asiata plays on his feet and does a very nice job of working his hips and putting the defender down when working the chase route. Even when he overextends, he has the balance to quickly recover. He uses his hands very effectively to separate and sustain. The only thing he lacked as a sophomore and junior was a bone-jarring hand punch, but in 2016, he has demonstrated much better power shooting his hands in attempts to shock and jolt. You can see his great development in using his hands to gain inside position. With his improved quickness, he has no problems trying to gain initial position. On contact, he has that natural size and raw power to sustain and finish. Still, with his ability to adjust on the move, he could see action quicker in the NFL than any other guard candidate in this draft. He has continued to improve his pad level and kick slide, as he is one of the better OL prospects when it comes to angling wide on end-around plays or stepping laterally to scoop a defender when blocking for the inside running game.
Explosion/Pop 7.7 Asiata has shown improvement generating explosion as a hip roller, but even when he fails to utilize those skills, he still has enough strength and leg drive to easily move out defenders and open large rush lanes. When he keeps his pads down, he comes off the snap with that explosive first step, but still needs to work on developing better hip fluidity.
He creates most of his movement with quickness and his body mass, but thanks to vast improvement with a stronger hand punch, he has been quite successful when trying to knock defenders off the line of scrimmage. Late in games, he will bend more often at the waist than with his knees, but when he locks on, he knows how to use his size and natural power to control the defender though. He might not be the quickest cut blocker, but he can accelerate into the second level to finish.
Run Blocking 8.0 Asiata has enough lower body strength and mass when he comes off the snap with a flat back, but will be even more effective once he learns to keep his pads down and roll his hips better. He has the quickness and blocking angle technique to make the cut off at the second level. He might overextend some, but can recover and drive the defender off the ball. Since the beginning of 2016, he has been very consistent in driving his man off the ball and with his size and power, he has no problem when trying to wash down and seal the lane. His great balance and improved footwork allows him to sustain and finish. The thing that impresses me the most is that with added experience, he is playing with tremendous aggressiveness on the run (see 2016 USC, Arizona and UCLA games). He excels at working the combo block, thanks to above average body control and on contact, he stays with his man, showing the intensity to sustain and finish. He is one of the most underrated incline blockers in the 2016 draft, as few can execute the down, scoop and reach blocks that he has produced the last two years.
Pass Blocking 7.7 Asiata has become very comfortable and controlled in his pass protection set. He plays with good awareness and has shown marked improvement using his hands (keeps them inside his frame rather that take wild arm swipes). He demonstrates great balance and body control, along with the footwork to slide and readjust to edge rushers than he did earlier in his career. He is very stout taking on the bull rush and stunts, as he now sets with a good, strong base to anchor. Every game, he demonstrates better hand usage and arm extension. His quickness and kick slide allow him to make reach blocks and he certainly has the balance and feet to mirror, doing a nice job of neutralizing counter moves. He has the base and hand usage to compensate for a lack of ideal knee bend. When he gets his hands into a defender, he will stun his opponent. His long arms and ability to rest his hands consistently lets him keep edge rushers at bay.
Pulling/Trapping 7.5 One reason some pro scouts consider Asiata as a valid starting offensive guard prospect is that he has very good body control and balance on pulls and traps. He is best on long pulls, as he accelerates quickly in space and has his head on a swivel to pick up secondary targets. His change of direction agility lets him reach the cut-off point (when he keeps his base wide and pads down). You can see on film the ease of movement when adjusting down the line of scrimmage (see 2016 UCLA, Arizona State and Indiana games).
Adjust on Linebacker
Downfield 6.9 On roll-outs, Asiata gets into the linebacker quickly. When he makes contact, he can wheel and cut the defender off. His feet are nimble for a player of his size and he rarely misses cuts while consistently finishing. He makes good adjustments in space and has shown marked improvement at taking proper blocking angles in the second level. He does a fine job of keeping his feet in space, displaying above average balance and the ability to adjust in attempts to handle counter moves. He can throw the cut block with the best of them, especially at this level of competition, as he has the vision, along with solid effort to adjust on the move when blocking down field.
Use of Hands/Punch 8.1 Asiata has that raw, natural upper body strength, long arm extension and large hands that allow him to stun and jolt any defender, if he gets them into the opponent’s chest. He keeps his hands active, doing a nice job when attempting to lock out and replace, as he has become a strong puncher. He gets good hand placement and movement working in-line and has the confidence to use those hands and strength with authority to control and adjust to the defender. He has greatly improved his timing when throwing his hands, as experience has allowed him to develop raw power and aggressiveness in this area. He uses his long arms very well to sustain blocks and shut down the edge rush. He does not hold as much as he should, but he does move his feet constantly to gain position. All he needs to be exceptional here is to flash more strength behind his punch.
Reactions/Awareness 7.4 With each passing game, you can see the improvement and development in Asiata’s overall game. He slides with very good balance and control and is alert to stunts and blitzes, as he works hard to reach the cut-off and set points, along with knowing when he has to readjust vs. counter moves. He has become very effective at knowing when to slide off to block. He is very effective reaching the cut-off thanks to his body control, quick feet and above average balance. He rarely gets caught leaning too much and is light on his feet, just like a dancing bear. However, he will cross his feet a bit when trying to change direction heading up field (made good improvement in this area as the 2016 progressed), causing him to look a bit heavy-footed when moving laterally, at times. He can chip block with the best of them at the second level and knows how to use his massive frame to push and create rush lanes.