- John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer
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I'm taking a look at selected players leading up to the NFL draft, which begins May 8. The reports are based on watching multiple games on draftbreakdown.com; I'll let you know when there is an opinion other than my own. I'm not a fan of having to only watch them off a TV feed -- you don't always get the best angle, or see all the players -- but it's the best I can do now and it helps provide a snapshot. The draft analysts -- especially those from ESPN.com, NFL.com and CBSSports.com -- help fill in the gap, especially in terms of where they are projected.
Player: Cyrus Kouandjio
Position: Offensive tackle
College production: Started 26 games the past two years after playing as a reserve during his redshirt freshman season of 2011.
How he’d fit: Kouandjio would eventually become the starting right tackle. How soon? Tough to say, but if he’s picked at 34 it probably wouldn’t be too long before he'd replace Tyler Polumbus. He appeared to be athletic enough to play in a zone system and would give the Redskins a potentially athletic tandem, paired with left tackle Trent Williams.
What I liked: His run blocking. Kouandjio did an excellent job getting his feet in position and then locking on his man. You rarely saw him lose control of his opponent and, in the LSU game this past year, a number of big runs went through his gap and were helped greatly by his blocking. Again, the positioning was good and he also kept his feet moving once he locked onto his man. (He was a soccer player as a kid; I like that if only because it helps with the footwork.) He definitely had some attitude. Saw on a couple screens/draws against Auburn where Kouandjio allowed his man to slip past only to swat him hard to the ground with his right hand. Against LSU I saw him block hard to the whistle -- and then some. Saw it in other games, too, as he showed flashes of an attitude coaches like. He’s athletic and was able to reach linebackers on blocks and even defensive backs. Seemed to have good strength and saw some spin moves fail in part because he knocked his man off stride and had no problems stopping him. Anchored well, especially when balanced and seemed to have strong hands. His athleticism seems to flash more in run blocking than pass protection. But he was mostly fine in pass protection (wish Auburn’s Dee Ford had gone against him). He does have good length, which helps in protection (and saw him use it to his advantage). That plus the fact he is capable of better footwork should lead to more consistency in protection.
What I didn’t: Inconsistent balance, which would get him in trouble in pass protection occasionally. Though he got his feet around on some blocks, his footwork in protection was inconsistent. He could recover at times against lesser competition in college, but it would be an issue to fix in the NFL. At times he blocked hard to the whistle; other times I didn’t see that as much. Against Auburn, I didn’t think he went as hard to the whistle as in other games; also didn’t see him look for someone else to block if he was done with his initial block. He allowed two sacks against Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, one coming because he was too flat against a defender who pretty much only attacked wide. Kouandjio at times would block too bent at the waist and with his head down. Again, he compensated with other skills like strength, but in the NFL this will hurt him. Many project him as a right tackle and I could see him having some issues at left tackle with speed rushers just because of his inconsistencies; did see him cross his feet on one pass set, which is a no-no. He’s rather slow, too, (only ran a 5.63 in the 40-yard dash at the combine).
Projection: Late first, early-to-mid second round. Kouandjio left school a year early; he would have been helped in terms of draft stock returning for another year. He also has some medical issues (tore an ACL and MCL in his left knee) that could impact where he goes.
Other players examined: