The Miami Dolphins will certainly be “in” on the offensive line talent during the first three rounds of this year’s NFL Draft; I don’t think that statement will surprise anyone. The more surprising statement one could make is that the Miami Dolphins could look to fortify the right tackle position with their 19th overall selection, instead of fortifying the left tackle position.
Enter Alabama OT Cyrus Kouandijo.
“Big Cy” has been widely known throughout his tenure with the University of Alabama as a “good” left tackle prospect, but a “great” right tackle prospect. Cyrus has been one of the best offensive linemen Nick Saban has been able to “reel in” out of high school, and Saban stuck this kid into the fire of the SEC from day one.
Kouandjio has been a starter along this ‘Bama offensive line since his freshman season, seeing time at both left and right tackle. He has played three straight seasons against the best talent college football has to offer in the SEC Conference, and is a two time National Champ.
Once thought to be a potential top-ten selection, his inconsistent play during the 2013-2014 season caused his draft stock to fall a bit, but the kid will still be a first round selection in this year’s NFL Draft.
Name: Cyrus Kouandijo
Weight: 310 lbs.
Draft Stock: Rising with Cam Erving (FSU) and Cedric Ogbuehi (A&M) both returning to school.
Draft Range: First round picks 10-19 (he won’t get past Miami….)
The obvious here is that Cyrus Kouandjio is one of the more pro ready tackles in this year’s class due to his collegiate pedigree. He’s played 3 straight seasons as a starting tackle for one of the best teams in all of college football, facing some of the best talent college football has to offer via the SEC, and he plays in a pro-style offense at the University of Alabama. Right now he is a pro-ready right tackle.
Kouandjio is at his best when his hand is in the dirt and he can fire out of his stance. He is one of the best blockers out of this stance, but he may need to get used to standing up in a two-point stance because the 3-point is “out-of-style” in our modern NFL passing league.
Kouandjio is one of the best run blocking tackles in this year’s draft. He bends well at the hips while run blocking, and uses his athleticism to get to the second level. I found that whenever Alabama needed to get crucial yardage on the ground, or they found success on the ground, it came behind big #71. He is very good at “sealing the long one” by making impact blocks via the run game.
Cyrus Kouandjio’s biggest weakness is his inability to perform consistently over the course of a full game. Yes, a game….not a season. ONE GAME. We saw it during the Sugar Bowl just a few weeks back against Oklahoma. Kouandjio played extremely well against the Sooner’s top pass rusher, Eric Striker. Striker and Kouandjio went back and forth for the majority of the game, and Kouandjio won the majority of those battles….except for three key plays.
The first of which, Kouandjio was beaten badly off the edge on a good jump by Striker. AJ McCarron was able to elude Striker’s pressure by coming underneath the rusher and tackle, to scramble for a first down.
The next of which Kouandjio was beaten again by Striker off the edge, but Kouandjio was able to regain his footing and wash Striker out of the play, while McCarron, again, escaped the pocket.
The final play, and ultimately the worst of Kouandjio’s Sugar Bowl, was the final play of the game in which Striker was able to get a good jump, and beat Kouandjio off the edge to force a strip-sack, which resulted in a Sooner touchdown to end the game.
Which leads us to our next weakness, he struggles with footwork and mechanics against speed rushers. If Kouandjio faces a speed rusher, he feels he must get a great jump off the line to accommodate for that speed. The problem is that Kouandjio should be focused on moving along the ring of the pocket, rather than trying to move laterally towards his assignment.
The last weakness we can draw from Kouandjio’s game is that he needs to do a much better job getting his hands on his assignment quicker off the line of scrimmage. As I already stated, he is a very good run blocker and excels when his hand is in the dirt. But when Kouandjio is in a two-point stance, he tends to get lazy and does not get that desired push up front. He needs to become a better “punch” blocker out of a two-point stance – Yes I technically just made that term up….sue me….
As I stated to open this piece, I really have no problem with Miami taking Kouandjio at 19, or even higher if they feel that they must move up to get him in the first round. He would be a great fit for Joe Philbin’s scheme, and he is the type of “athletic” offensive line prospect this regime desires.
That being said, Kouandjio will never be an elite left tackle, so if you are going to take this guy in the first round you must feel comfortable with whoever your left tackle is or you have to go out and grab a left tackle either in rounds 2/3, via free agency (which hopefully you have already done so), or the trade market – which why wouldn’t you trade up into the top picks for Matthews or Robinson?
I’ll be comfortable with this selection if Miami grabs a guy like Albert or Monroe via free agency to stick at left tackle. I am not a fan of Kouandjio as left tackle protecting Ryan Tannehill’s blind-side.
Scout’s Take Update: This week we will be taking a look at UNC T James Hurst, OSU RB Carlos Hyde, and Washington TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins! Be sure to check those out!