He's not the first NFL prospect from the University of Alabama to make a pre-draft visit to the Bills, but he might be the last. Offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio was the latest college prospect to meet coaches at One Bills Drive Friday. For Kouandjio (6-6 3/4, 322) the pre-draft process has been anything but easy.
A two-year starter for the Crimson Tide at left tackle, Kouandjio played in his last 27 college games. Still, he's young in football having played soccer as a youth in his native Cameroon. What NFL clubs that like him are banking on is his upside.
Kouandjio has outstanding physical measurables and most certainly passes the eyeball test. He had the second-longest arms of the offensive tackles at the NFL combine in February at 35 5/8 inches. He also had the second-biggest hand size at 10 ¼ inches.
After he put up a solid 21 reps with arms that long NFL talent evaluators in Indianapolis were excited, but a disappointing workout on the field (5.59 40-time, eight-foot broad jump, 27 ½ inch vertical) has reportedly got some teams down on him. The NFL.com report that Kouandjio's surgically repaired knee was deemed arthritic and that he crossed off several teams' draft boards has died down.
Famed orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews has personally cleared Kouandjio's knee as healthy even though he did not perform the surgery. He sent letters to all 32 teams to deliver this information. Alabama team doctor Lyle Cain, who did perform the procedure, said not only did Kouandjio not miss a game following surgery, he did not miss a practice and that there were no lingering issues with his knee like pain or swelling.
Buffalo likely wants to check in with Kouandjio one last time to see where he's at physically, especially on the heels of his April 8th pro day. Kouandjio bettered some of his combine numbers including his vertical (31 inches) and did run a "faster" 40 time than he did in Indianapolis. He also reportedly performed position drills for more than an hour after his workout was over for NFL scouts who were in attendance.
The Alabama product has shown flashes of elite ability, which has NFL clubs enticed knowing if his skills can be effectively paired with his physical attributes he could be a left tackle in the NFL for a long time. Most NFL scouts see him as a better pass blocker than run blocker at this stage of his development. He surrendered just 1.5 sacks on 286 pass attempts in 2013.
There is a nasty demeanor to Kouandjio's game that is appealing to many NFL GMs. It should help put him on the fast track to being an effective run blocker in time as his technique develops.
Kouandjio is expected to be a mid-first round selection in what is considered a very strong offensive tackle year.