Cardinals: Run-blocking Iupati to take over at guard
Mike Iupati has signed a deal that sees him remain in the NFC West and move to the Arizona Cardinals. The deal represents a curious fit for a player who has clear upside, and can be a crushing run blocker, but has always struggled a bit in pass protection.
While the Cardinals don’t throw as often as some teams, when they do it is often down field and requires a lot of the pass protection holding up to give them the time to execute those shots. Drew Stanton led the NFL in average depth of target last year at 11.7 and both he and Palmer had the ball in their hands for 2.6 or more seconds on 43.5% of their dropbacks.
Iupati has never earned a positive grade at PFF over a season for pass protection and last season he earned a -7.5 grade thanks in large part to surrendering seven sacks, a league-high among guards.
Iupati’s Pass Blocking Efficiency of 95.1 was worse than all but nine other guards managed in 2014 and only seven surrendered more than the 31 total pressures he gave up.
Pass protection is definitely an issue, but there is no doubt protecting for a more predictable quarterback like Carson Palmer will make life easier for somebody like Iupati. Colin Kaepernick’s athleticism and ability to take off and scramble can be a double-edged sword when it comes to pass blocking for as much as he can bail his blockers out when they lose their man, he can also undermine their blocks by careless movement in the pocket.