Thursday was a huge day for NFL Draft watchers. ESPN draft experts Mel Kiper and Todd McShay both released their version 2.0 of their mock drafts. In their previous projections, both had the Arizona Cardinals drafting an offensive lineman with the 20th overall pick.
He has the frame you'd describe if you were talking about ideal physical traits for a left tackle, but Kouandjio battled inconsistency last season, and was particularly susceptible to extremely quick pass-rushers who could drive upfield and turn the corner on him, getting under his reach. But let's be clear about something: Kouandjio could be a total steal at this point, a long and powerful tackle who won't be 21 until after the draft. The upside of an All-Pro is here.
Arizona's offensive line played better in 2013, but the Cardinals need to find an upgrade over the physically limited Bradley Sowell at left tackle. Kouandjio is still a work in progress (he needs to improve his balance and hand placement) and would have benefited from another year at school, but he's supremely gifted at 6-5, 310 pounds with natural mobility. He likely would be projected to go higher were it not for his disappointing start and finish to the season.
Now, this might not be the most exciting pick for many fans and many think the pick screams Levi Brown. However, nobody would have been as critical of Brown had he been the 20th pick rather than the fifth overall pick. Secondly, it sounds like he is more mobile than Brown.
Of course, what perhaps needs to be seen is his demeanor. Brown was never nasty enough. He was very calm, but the "rage" rarely showed up on the football field.
Would that be different with Kouandjio?
Of course, the one downside to drafting this kid out of Alabama is his last name. I don't think a single writer would feel confident that he or she spelled his name right, even if it is. Oh, and the joy we will have listening to lots of draft podcasts -- I can't imagine how many will totally butcher the name (it's KWAN-joe).
I wouldn't totally hate this pick, but I wouldn't be in love with it. It screams a little desperation, especially considering the franchise's experience with Brown and Leonard Davis, another highly drafted tackle. Also, in McShay's mock, they leave cornerback Justin Gilbert on the board, who goes the very pick, while in Kiper's the very next pick is safety Calvin Pryor, who could be an answer at safety.
What would be your reaction to a Kouandjio selection?