The Tide featured a front wall that could see at least four blockers playing in the NFL next season. While Arie Kouandjio does not come with the “press clippings” that younger brother, 2013 Alabama left tackle, Cyrus, but the versatile linemen decided to stay in school to hone his blocking technique in 2014 and eliminate any doubts scouts may have had, as he was just one season removed from three years of undergoing multiple knee surgeries.
Kouandjio did not allow any sacks as a senior and was a first-team All-American behind a performance that saw him grade 89% for blocking consistency. The Tide left guard might have to move to tackle at the pro level, as he shows decent initial quickness and has the ability to change direction, but is slow-footed when having to work into the second level.
He has good body control and balance when stationary, generating good pop coming straight out of his stance and into the defender’s body. With his strong base, few opponents have had any success in pushing him back into the pocket and he is quick to counter the bull rush by generating a bone-jarring hand punch. Buffalo, Tampa Bay and Cleveland are all looking for a big body on the left side. The Bills are hoping that the Tide blocker slides to the second round, as they hope to reunite the brothers in upstate New York next season.
There are times where Kouandjio will get too tall in his stance or waist bend, causing him to fail in generating explosion off the snap or moving laterally with suddenness, but he is quick enough to get into the second level on short pulls. Even with adequate change of direction agility, he builds his acceleration steadily when asked to log or down block. When he gets too tall in his stance, he is more apt to lean into his man and use his body as a crutch as the game wears on, but he has enough quickness and movement ability to get the job done coming off the snap when he maintains proper pad level.
Kouandjio’s waist bending prevents him from getting that sudden and fluid movement needed to pull and trap going long distances. He uses his natural strength to generate movement. When he gets too tall in his stance or does not drop his pads under his frame, he becomes just an adequate mover in space, especially when trying to mirror smaller, quicker opponents, as he does not have the ease of movement to recover when he lunges or over-extends (footwork and hip snap need refinement).
The left guard has the leg drive to clear the rush lanes and shows good hand placement to root out the defender. Some coaches might want him to sink his weight and lower his pads more, especially in short yardage situations, as he does take false steps and that makes his leverage inconsistent. He was not asked to get out on the edge and impact for outside running plays at Alabama, as he does not have great timed speed (5.43), but he will not cross his feet, and compensates for lumbering into the second level by taking good blocking angles.
In a zone blocking scheme, Kouandjio has capably performed with his movement skills to develop into a quality pass protector at the NFL level (only two sacks allowed in 27 games as a starter, encompassing 816 pass plays). When he maintains low pad level, he has no problem shuffling, sliding and reacting to movement.
The senior might struggle with the quick double move at times, but is generally efficient in pass protection, as he stays on his feet and anchors well. Some teams might look at him as a right tackle, but he does not have that natural balance or foot quickness to mirror edge rushers (best when not isolated on the outside). He could have problems vs. the speed rush at the next level, but he does sink his hips adequately and compensates by playing with a wide base to maintain his anchor.
Kouandjio will struggle with his balance on long pulls, but when he comes out of his stance with proper ease-of-movement, he can pull and strike second level targets with great consistency. He has worked hard in his attempts to move his feet and hips more when attempting to pull, trap and log. When pulling from the back side, he no longer will get caught in traffic as he used to pull too flat and that got him swallowed. He works hard to open his hips (still an issue) and move down the line, but he is just not quick enough to reach past a second level target.
Arie Kouandijo NFL Scouting Combine measurable
34 1/8-inch arm length
10 7/8-inch hands
Dave-Te’ Thomas is a sports writer, talent evaluator and scouting personnel consultant for a majority of teams in the National Football League. Thomas runs a scouting information service called NFL Scouting Services and produces THE NFL Draft Report, a publication provided by league headquarters to the media in preparation for the NFL Draft.
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