A few weeks ago, I wrote up both the Alabama and Tennessee offensive prospects in next May's NFL Draft. There are two junior offensive linemen that I didn’t write up, because I wasn’t sure they were going to come out. Since then, Tennessee tackle, Antonio Richardson, has already declared, and from what I hear, Alabama tackle, Cyrus Kouandjio, won’t be far behind. Here are my thoughts on each player.
Antonio Richardson – Tackle
“Tiny” Richardson is a third year junior and a two-year starter at left tackle for Tennessee. He has excellent size, being listed at 6’6 – 325, and has very long arms. He has good quickness and play speed for an offensive lineman to go along with good overall athleticism. He shows bend, quick feet, and good change of direction.
As good an athlete Richardson is, he doesn’t always play with that top athleticism. I have seen too many plays where Tiny shows good bend and keeps his back straight, so I know he can do it. Still, while he flashes very good initial quickness, there are plays where he is the last player off the ball. He also can have a tendency in the run game to play tall and over extend (bend at the waist). He can get away with it at the college level because he is so big and powerful. That won’t be the case in the NFL. He can do it. It’s more a case of concentrating on his technique. Still, when he takes good angles into blocks, he shows some explosiveness on contact, keeps his feet moving, and is able to generate movement.
In pass protection, he shows the ability to set quickly. He has good hand use to go along with a strong punch. With his lateral agility, he is able to cut off wide speed. He anchors well at this level, but again, he can have a tendency to get tall on some plays. He doesn’t always anticipate a counter move. There are plays where his opponent starts outside, only to plant and come back across Richardson’s face. Physically, he can easily recover to stop this type of move, but at times, is late to react to it. Still, with his size and long arms, he can at least knock the rusher off his angle. Even though Richardson can get tall, he still shows very good ability to anchor. You don’t see him give ground to pass rushers.
Overall, Richardson has some faults, but most are correctable with coaching. He has the natural traits to be a very good left tackle in the NFL. At this time, I have him fifth on my tackle list and he can very easily go in the first round.
Cyrus Kouandjio – Tackle
Cyrus is a third-year junior and a two-year starter at left tackle for Alabama. Coming out of high school, he was a five-star recruit and regarded by many as the top offensive linemen in his class.
Kouandjio has excellent size, being listed at 6’6 – 312. He has long arms and a massive frame and can easily play at 330 if he wanted to. Cyrus has excellent athletic ability and body control. He can run (5.05 est), bend and change direction to go along with very quick feet. In the run game, he is very explosive coming off the ball. On contact, he easily gets movement with his “pop” and foot movement. He consistently looks to finish and he gets a lot of “pancakes”. He is an effective combination blocker, being able to come off one block and get to another. He easily gets to the second level and can adjust on the move. He isn’t asked to pull that often, but when he does, it’s usually to the left, and he is effective. He has the speed to stay in front of a back and can adjust on the move to hit a moving target.
In pass protection, he sets quickly and has excellent lateral agility. He is light on his feet and plays with excellent bend. He has a strong punch and flashes the ability to jolt his opponent with it. He generally keeps good position, but he can over set wide at times. When this happens, he gives his opponent an open window for a counter move. With his athleticism, he can recover quickly to stop the charge at the college level, but in the NFL, he has to be more conscience of where he is with his sets. Cyrus’ anchor ability is second to none. You never see him get bull rushed.
Kouanjio has better physical traits then Mathews (Texas A&M) and Lewan (Michigan), but at this time, he is not as good with his technique. The question teams will have to answer on draft day is, do they go with upside or what the player is now?
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