As the Bills look at their current depth chart and try to add some competition to the guard spots, what better person to bring in than the older brother of Cyrus, Arie Kouandjio?
Kouandjio stands 6’5″ and weighs 315 pounds, with 34 1/8″ arms and 10 7/8″ hands. Much like his younger brother, getting off the bus Arie looks like he’s going to be a problem for the opponent. However, Arie’s issue has been getting on said bus. While he ended his career starting 27 consecutive games at guard for the Crimson Tide, Arie started his career with multiple knee surgeries and rehabbing a good bit of his 2012 season while backing up the starters.
Throughout this process, however, he earned the nickname “Jason” because like the horror movie icon Arie wouldn’t stay “down” no matter what said injury/rehab he had to endure. That sort of tenacity is remarkable, but it also is a flag to teams that Arie may not warrant a pick commensurate to his ability. Let’s dive in.
Arie Kouandjio is not a good athlete in terms of movement skills. Double teaming down the field or climbing up to a linebacker aren’t going to be difficult things for him. Heck, pulling won’t be either. However, getting to that point and engaging a target regularly may be at the NFL level.
In a perfect world you’d hope at worst he’s going to be in the way and at best he destroys the first opponent in the gap. In this case, neither occurs. Yikes.
Looking at Kouandjio, running the ball behind him is strongly recommended. When ‘Bama needed yardage running left wasn’t a bad idea. In terms of pure drive-blocking Arie can be a human forklift and re-direct nearly any defender in his way. What hurts him at times will be the aforementioned movement skills (or at times lack thereof).
As you notice in the clip, Arie is great at driving defenders off the ball, as well as double-teaming with the tackle or guard up to the second level. You also saw in that clip the other side of that: Arie isn’t great at re-directing to collision a second defender. This is a crucial trait to be lacking in a Roman offense, as he wants those linemen up the field if they’re getting an LB – and if Kouandjio is struggling with hitting college moving targets, the NFL equivalents are going to drive him (and coaches) nuts.
In terms of pass protection, the same strengths and weaknesses rear their heads. If Arie has you in the phone booth, he’ll give a solid punch and stone you and keep the QB upright. If however, pressure comes in late or from a stunt, he is late in getting his body across to stop the defender. That’s a serious no-can-do for the QB, especially if they’re running a play-action pass. What you’re about to witness could be a kill shot in the NFL.
In terms of the awareness, a coach can assist with making sure he’s on the same page. The lack of flexibility and almost robotic nature that he has when he’s gathering himself to change directions however is something he cannot.
How He Fits the Bills:
Arie Kouandjio would be a nice depth player on the interior, but I wouldn’t count on him being a player that screams year one starter. Between his injuries, relative difficulty turning to re-direct in the pass game and overall stiffness should he be drafted fans need to temper expectations. Ultimately for him and for Cyrus, being on separate teams may be best in the long run. I would project him going at some point day three, similar to Cyril – say the 4th or 5th round.