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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Around The Draft: Weekend Edition

I'm aiming to knock out my thoughts on 60 prospects that currently fit between 25 and 85, to cover prospective picks at 28, 60, 92.  Of course, I missed yesterday because life is more important than free content, but no worries. Will do a few today.

I find that, now that the team has two receivers (and needs at least that), fans who've been clamoring for receivers at all costs are sated.  While the team has more to scrape together on the OL, they need an unquestioned starter at OT and WR by opening day.

 Carolina hasn't shied away from injury concern players, taking one with an ACL injury that was fresh (CB Brandon Hogan), two heart concerns (DLs Star Lotulelei and Frank Alexander), and the double first rounders of 2008 (Jonathan Stewart's toe, what we now know to be a chronically arthritic knee in Jeff Otah).

Cyrus Kouandijo (6'7, 322, Alabama) comes from a long line of high picks, some of them deserved (DJ Fluker, his bookend, looks to be a fantastic RT) and some not (James Carpenter should've never gone in the first).  I watched a lot of Kouandijo the last two years, first because of the three draft quality OL in the '13 draft and the highly publicized game tape of DT Sheldon Richardson against that same Alabama OL.

In both instances, I was also told to watch Kouandijo because some wanted him to be available too.  I wasn't completely impressed but he seemed draftable.  I watched him again this year in a few games and he just looked slower, less able. He has light feet, certainly.  But he didn't stand out, for a guy who was potentially a top ten pick in a draft full of OT talent.

It didn't help that he came to combine looking "sluggish" and "unathletic".  Now, the Alabama doctors saying "no, really, it's a good knee" isn't much to go on.  Dr. James Andrews, however, the guy who handed us Jonathan Stewart and is a team doctor (and world renowned sports surgeon), says concerns about the knee are unjustified.

Barrett Jones, Alabama's center up until this past year, had injury concern and fell hard (4th).  Same for his practice opponent, NT Jesse Williams (5th). Being an Alabama guy that's successful and hardworking doesn't gather the same attention as if you're an athletic freak, but it's hard to say that there's a massive amount of production from recent Alabama picks.  That doesn't affect Kouandijo necessarily compared to the health issue, but Alabama guys who aren't rock solid don't get the concerns of Miami guys from a prior decade that could do about anything and be drafted high.

Bottom line?  He's talented, and if the knee is going to be OK, great. Could be a steal.  But he's not a guy I'd throw a first at, either.  I have no clue if Carolina actually has him on their board or if they dropped him for medical reasons.  Andrews would know best, so I'm assuming he's in play.  But how did it affect him in prep for this draft?  What are you really getting?
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