Leading up to the NFL draft on May 8-10, Shutdown Corner will examine some of the most interesting prospects in the class, breaking down their strengths and weaknesses.
6-foot-7, 322 pounds
2013 stats: During regular season had 14 knockdown blocks and allowed just 1.5 sacks in 286 pass attempts
40-yard dash: 5.59 seconds
The good: On the 2012 Alabama offensive line, sophomore Kouandjio was the next star. It was one of the great offensive lines in college football history. Chance Warmack and D.J. Fluker were first-round picks last year, Barrett Jones was a fourth-round pick but had the best college career of the bunch. The left tackle, Kouandjio, was going to be a high pick too once he could come out.
He is a huge tackle, opening big holes for 18 100-yard rushers over the 2012 and 2013 seasons. He was a first-team All American as a junior last season. He has elite size and was a standout player in the best conference in college football. Based on the hype he was getting after the 2012 season, his junior season should have been enough to get him into the top half of the first round when he declared.
The bad: The Sugar Bowl was not kind to Kouandjio. Oklahoma speed rusher Eric Striker beat Kouandjio often to the outside. Alabama gave up seven sacks as a team and Kouandjio gave up way too much pressure. Striker beat him for a strip-sack of AJ McCarron late in the game that sealed the Sooners' win. To Kouandjio's credit, he took the blame after the game, even apologizing to Alabama's fans. But it was a tough blow to have that be his last game before the NFL draft. It got worse.
Kouandjio had a poor scouting combine performance, with a slow 40-yard dash and sub-par times in the three-cone drill and short shuttle. He also had just 21 reps in the bench press, which was low for a tackle known for his size and strength. Then NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport said many teams failed Kouandjio on their physicals as a result of an arthritic knee from a failed surgery dating back to 2011, when he tore his ACL as a freshman. Dr. James Andrews, on behalf of Kouandjio, sent letters to NFL teams saying his knee was fine and he has had no issues with it, CBS reported.
''That's not even a worry,'' Kouandjio told the Associated Press. ''It was never a worry for me. And it's starting to clear up, which is what I expected.''
If there is concern among NFL teams about his knee, combine that with questions about whether he's athletic enough to be a top NFL left tackle, and it hasn't helped his stock.
The verdict: Kouandjio's draft stock has taken hits since the calendar turned to 2014. Striker is a good college player but Kouandjio will face much bigger and better pass rushers in the NFL.
Kouandjio played right tackle throughout high school and said at the combine that he's comfortable on either side, and maybe some teams would prefer him on the right. Kouandjio is still expected to be a late first-round or second-round pick. He might never be an elite athlete at tackle, but he was an exceptional college player at a great program, and with the right line coach to perfect his footwork, he could be a good NFL starter.
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