Tuesday, March 13, 2012

2012 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Amini Silatolu, OG, Midwestern State

There are always a few small-school NFL Draft prospects you may never have heard of or seen on your television on Saturday afternoons in the fall, but who find the eye of NFL scouts nonetheless. One of the most intriguing prospect in that category for 2012 is Amini Silatolu, a 6-foot-3, 312-pound offensive guard from someplace called Midwestern State.
When I went looking for scouting reports on Silatolu, they all said pretty much the same thing. The one from Wes Bunting of the National Football Post was typical:
"He has some technique flaws that needs to be fixed and will need to kick inside at the next level. However, he's a wide-bodied athlete with a powerful/explosive frame, good foot quickness and can really pull from the backside. Might need some time, but is one of the top guards in the class with as much upside as any."
The very lengthy video below shows Silatolu as a man among boys as he shows his mean streak by pretty much brutalizing outclassed and under-sized opponents.
Amini Silatolu Highlights (via benniemac22)
"Played left tackle in college but will kick inside to guard at the next level because he lacks the length to play outside in the NFL. He is raw but very mean and strong making him an ideal fit at guard. There are concerns about how quickly he will pick up the offensive system, which is why his grade is lower, but if he picks it up then he has a shot to start one day."
CBS Sports says Silatolu "could be a first-round surprise" and might be a fit for the Giants:
"One of the biggest reasons for the Giants' success in recent years has been their talent in the trenches, but the aging offensive line needs a facelift. Despite a talented backfield of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs, the Giants finished last in the league in rushing yards per game and a large part of the blame belongs to the blockers. Although he played against lower level of competition, Silatolu might be one of the most aggressive blockers in this group. He started at left tackle in college, but looks ideal moving inside to guard and could be a first round surprise."
NFL.com says:
"Silatolu is a large, athletic interior lineman who has the ability to smother his opponents and consistently sustain his blocks through the end of plays. Coming from a small school like Midwestern State facing little competition, he will have an adjustment period far greater than other linemen as he enters the league. It is likely that a team will want to move him from his college position of tackle to inside, where his height will be more serviceable and he can use his athletic ability to get up field more often in the run game. Silatolu's greatest attribute is his footwork, as he is quick off the line of scrimmage and an active puller who can get outside, move up field and locate his blocks to quickly engage. He does not have great leverage or explosiveness in his play but possesses many strong assets for an interior lineman, giving him early second-round value to a team with the patience to develop him into a starter."
I am intrigued by the reports on this guy. The Giants are OK at guard for now with Chris Snee and either Kevin Boothe or Mitch Petrus, possibly affording them the ability to draft someone like this who might require some patience but pay long-range dividends. We also know Reese and the Giants always think big picture, another thing that might put a player like this in play.

The Shock's Kindred Spirits

At the Shock practice facility, there's no shortage of grit on the gridiron. Talented athletes come from all over the country to play for the Shock. 
For offensive linemen Shannon Tevaga and Paulani Ma Sun, football is a game that builds fierce competition, "especially with our practices; our practices are rough," Tevaga said. 
Tevaga, 6'-3" and 315 lbs., spent his rookie season with Spokane last year and helped anchor the Shock's offensive line. Tevaga was placed on the Injured Reserve list earlier in the season but, once he was healthy, he made an instant impact earning the starting position in all seven of the games he played. 
Ma Su, 6'-5" and 320 lbs., appeared in 11 Shock games last year and recorded two receptions for 25 yards as a tight end on the offensive line. 
For this pair, the game also builds character - in every sense of the word.
"We have a lot of characters amongst our players," Shock owner and CEO Brady Nelson explained. "They're all characters."
Ma Sun said, "We like to have fun on and off the field."
The pair met last year - Tevaga hails from California and Ma Sun from Hawaii - but sitting together after practice on afternoon they seem more like long-lost brothers, poking fun at each other the whole time.
"We joke a lot, we make it fun," Ma Sun continued. "We enjoy our time when we're out here." 
"It's very exciting being with Paulani cause we're both Samoan, both Polynesian," Tevaga said.
It's a bond the they use to their advantage on the field. "It works to our advantage because we speak the same language, especially when we play other teams," Ma Sun said. 
In addition to sharing the same position, culture, and language the players also share one other thing: the same apartment. 
"At the beginning - because he got the master bedroom - I didn't think was fair cause I'm the master," Tevaga joked of their living situation. 
To ease the players' transition to Spokane and focus on football, the Shock put up all of the players in fully furnished apartments in Liberty Lake, free of charge. 
"I'm not going to lie, we're spoiled out here," Tevaga said, whose apartment comes with all new furniture and appliances including a new big screen TV. Nelson said the players also have new weight equipment in the gym this year. 
Back on the field, there are a few things these players won't joke about including their love for the fans.
"The fans are good," Tevaga continued. "Every time we go around, they always give us love."
They are also serious when it comes to winning it all this season. 
"That's why we came back - to win a championship."
SWX will air eight home games, including the regular season finale on Saturday, July 21, against Tampa Bay.

Falcons Add Lofa Tatupu

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the Falcons have reached a contract agreementwith free agent linebacker Lofa Tatupu.
Tatupu sat out all of last season while recovering from double knee surgeries. Atlantaworked him out Friday morning and struck the deal Saturday afternoon.
New Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan coached against Tatupu for several years in the NFC West, when Tatupu was Seattle’s middle linebacker and Nolan was San Francisco’s head coach.
The Falcons have a void at inside linebacker with Curtis Lofton appearing poised to test the free agent waters. Tatupu could end up competing for that spot with 2011 third-round pick Akeem Dent.