Cyrus Kouandjio, LT, Alabama (HT: 6'6¾"; WT: 322 lbs)
Second Round: 44th Pick
NFL Comparison: Tyron Smith, LT, Dallas Cowboys
+ Terrific athlete with long arms and great size.
+ Powerful zone-blocker who can be smothering and dominant.
+ Strong leg drive and clear ability to follow through and finish blocks.
+ Tough player who has a major mean streak.
- Can become out-of-control and flailing as a pass protector when trying to mirror outside speed threats.
- Has a tendency to punch "inside-out," which can look like holding.
- Had a horrible combine in physical testing and also in medical checkups, which uncovered what was, at the time, described as a chronic "arthritic knee from a failed surgery," per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
- Has trouble getting to the second level of the defense on the back side of zone plays.
|6066||322||35 5/8"||10 1/8"|
|40-yard dash||10-yd split||Bench||Vert||Broad||3-cone||Shuttle|
Kouandjio is a prospect whom evaluators will struggle to reconcile, and his feet are one of the most confusing issues they'll face when evaluating the tools in his kit. He has huge hands, giant arms and very large feet.
On one hand, he shows flashes of high-level, near-elite footwork in several aspects of his game.
In this .gif showing a draw-run concept, Kouandjio (LT No. 71) almost looks like a point guard on the edge—one who's mirroring his opponent off the dribble at the top of the key. He sets with a nice inside step and looks very athletic and fluid in motions to keep his hips pointed toward the defensive end. Kouandjio blocks his path and eventually takes him downfield. He keeps his feet pumping and looks very balanced. Once he punches No. 55 outside, he shows a quick step and burst to position his left shoulder on the inside half of the defender, sealing him off and taking him effectively out of the play.
And here, we see Kouandjio's feet looking awful, as if he's playing football on wet, sticky cement. He doesn't get proper depth with his first kick in pass protection and spends the rest of the active phase of this snap trying to compensate. Evaluators will notice that Kouandjio, in his third and fourth resetting acts, loses all semblance of balance. He flails backward with a base that goes from wide to narrow and then back to wide in a manner that resembles someone trying to do the splits. For an outside speed-rusher, converting this play is like taking candy from a baby.
Motor, Toughness, Explosiveness and Power
Evaluators will find in scouting Kouandjio that he plays with a good motor. His intensity does not wane through games, and he is not an "on/off-switch" player who is inconsistent with effort. As for toughness, it should say enough that he might have played through two seasons of football on a knee that was not properly repaired.
His 21 reps at the combine were the second-worst among linemen who took part in the test, which is disappointing. However, it is also fair to mention that he had the second-longest arms of all participants.
In reviewing the film, he has put quite a body of work on tape that indicates he possesses above-average functional power in the football setting. On this play, an inside-zone-left concept, Kouandjio gives a small sampling of the "latch-on-and-drive" mentality he brings to his run-blocking assignments. His length and the size of his hands add to his ability to become a near-impossible presence for defenders to get off once they're in his grasp.
Quickness, Agility and Balance
Kouandjio is "quicker than he is fast," which is good when you consider he ran the slowest 40-yard dash of all offensive linemen at the NFL combine. He has an athletic twitch that is much more suited to the generation of small-area torque and momentum than it is to long speed.
In the .gif of Play The Draft and RosterWatch footage, you'll see that scouts worked with Kouandjio at Alabama's pro day to evaluate his balance in pass protection, which has been a clear issue. While the .gif shows a relatively balanced and smooth-looking prospect through his kicks and glides, it's important to remember that the game is a little bit different than the practice field. The example in the "feet" section above should serve as a reminder that his elite size will come with balance issues at the next level.
As for agility, Kouandjio shows good functional agility through games. This is evidenced by his ability to dominate the line of scrimmage in productive ways within Alabama's zone-blocking scheme, which calls for consistent lateral power-steps out of its linemen. Kouandjio was in the top 15 participants at the combine in the three-cone drill, so agility, by most measures, seems to be far from a concern when evaluating him.
Run Blocking and Pass Blocking
Kouandjio is clearly a better run-blocker at this point in his career than he is as a pass-blocker. This will not stop tackle-needy NFL teams from kicking the tires on him, though. His length and the development he has shown through 2013 in pass protection serve as positive indicators for where his overall game is likely headed.
Will Cyrus Kouandjio be drafted in the first round?
He says he is a "dominant" run-blocker, and most of the time, this is hard to argue. He has shown the agility and quickness to play in a zone-blocking scheme with a very downhill, dominant mindset. Kouandjio generally takes good angles to the second level, maintains good leverage and finishes plays as a run-blocker.
In pass protection, he can become top-heavy and sacrifice his balance. He is not as fundamentally sound in the passing game as he is in the running game. At times, he can appear unwieldy and stiff on the edge, and it should be clear to evaluators that if he were to start an NFL game at left tackle today, there would most certainly be disruption to the quarterback due to his yet-unsolved issues.
He will be a Day 2 pick at the latest, though, and this is because scouts, coaches and evaluators will see in Kouandjio—who now seems "fully healthy," not getting called in for the combine medical recheck, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports—all the tools to realistically develop into an eight- to 10-year NFL starter at a marquee position.
Alex Dunlap is an NFL Featured Columnist. All quotes and information gained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Alex Dunlap on Twitter - @AlexDunlapNFL