With an offensive line group that includes the likes of Auburn’s Greg Robinson, Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews and Michigan’s Taylor Lewan, multiple quality tackle prospects have managed to fly under the collective radar of media draftniks entering next month’s draft.
Alabama tackle Cyrus Kouandjio finds himself at the head of that group. In a different year, the 6’6,” 311-pound Kouandjio could rank near the top of his position’s class, but currently projects as a late first-round pick, if not an early second-round selection.
As the left tackle for the Crimson Tide, Kouandjio was the linchpin behind the Crimson Tide’s record-breaking offensive output, as he helped Alabama to nearly 6,000 yards from scrimmage during the 2013 season.
The 20-year-old Kouandjio does bring a few question marks along with his stout collegiate resume, however.
Following a performance at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis that lagged behind many of his offensive line contemporaries,
Kouandjio, who joined Alabama as the top-ranked right tackle at the prep level, played at left tackle throughout his collegiate career. His versatility and ability to perform at either side could serve as a boon for Kouandjio, who could battle for draft position with Notre Dame’s Zack Martin and Virginia’s Morgan Moses, among others.
Kouandjio entered the 2013 season as a renowned run-blocking tackle, and supplemented that attribute by emphasizing pass protection during his junior season, progress that will serve well in contouring his skill set for the NFL. That focus in pass protection allowed Kouandjio to help his college teammate and likely 2014 mid-round draftee A.J. McCarron to establish a school record with 3,063 passing yards in a single season.
Provided his health concerns are, in fact a non-issue, Kouandjio projects as a likely first-year starter in the NFL. Given the collective depth at his position this spring, he represents a potential bargain for late first round and early second-round suitors.
With an offseason that has seen the departure of multiple members of their 2013 offensive line via free agency, the Rams will likely be in the draft market for a tackle. Kouandjio could figure as an option for the Rams at 44th overall, if they elect not to draft a tackle with either of their two first-round picks.