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2014 prospect watch: Cyrus Kouandjio

The Phinsider isn't just preparing for the 2014 NFL season--we love college football, too. And this year's draft prospect class features some outstanding talent that will soon electrify Sundays the way it dominates Saturdays. This is a video series of the top 15 league-wide draft prospects for 2014.

It's rare to see a left tackle get overshadowed by the rest of his offensive line, but that's pretty much what happened to Alabama's Cyrus Kouandjio in 2012. Usually the role of blindside protector on a BCS Championship-winning squad becomes a well-known commodity inside NFL scouting circles, but it's awfully hard to get face time on a line that featured guard Chance Warmack, tackle D.J. Fluker and center Barrett Jones. Thus, Kouandjio enters the 2014 season under a rather unenviable set of circumstances: he wants to prove he belongs in the conversation for best left tackle in the nation, but he won't have Warmack, Fluker or Jones to tilt the playing field. Now, that isn't to say the Tide's offensive line is bereft of talent following the loss of its big three--Alabama is a recruiting powerhouse, and Nick Saban has a knack for rebuilding the offensive trenches in a hurry. That said, Kouandjio could be on an island at times this season, so he'll have to be on his game every Saturday this fall if he hopes to compete with Michigan's Taylor Lewan and Texas A&M's Jake Matthews to become the first tackle selected next May.

The included video is the Texas A&M/Alabama contest from November 2012. Kouandjio's performance on tape reveals a balanced tackle prospect equipped with a nice initial punch, good feet and enough agility to get downfield and put it on linebackers. Kouandjio grades out quite well as a run blocker, and he mirrors and slides well in pass pro. His arm length appears to be very good, and he rides pass-rushers past the pocket with relative ease. However, he'll whiff on moving targets once in a while, and he's on the ground more than you'd like to see with a first-round-caliber tackle.

If you need a pro comparison for Kouandjio, his style of play is very similar to that of Denver's Ryan Clady. Like the Bronco standout, Kouandjio has the potential to be a "set it and forget it" left tackle in the NFL, with the added ability to bulldoze paths in the run game. We'll see if teams feel the same way about him in May 2014.

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