I’ll be the first to admit that when the Buffalo Bills selected the Cameroon-born tackle Cyrus Kouandjio in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft I wasn’t too happy. In my opinion, the Alabama alumn didn’t have the footwork to start at tackle in the NFL.
Marrone was trying to build a mammoth offensive line and Cyrus fit the Bill. Physically he looked the part but to me he lacked some very necessary skills in today’s NFL.
The main issue I had with Cyrus were his feet. They are heavy and he lacked the agility and speed needed to combat talented pass rushers at the NFL level. When you watch the video below, you will see that his footwork and agility are still his weakness but you can’t deny how far he has come.
The Cardinals came to Western New York last Sunday and they brought a pass rusher that the Bills are extremely familiar with. Chandler Jones has eaten Cordy Glenn’s lunch for most of his career. But with Glenn out due to an injury, Cyrus got another start. I gotta give credit where credit is due, Kouandjio handled his business quite well. Was it perfect? No, not by any stretch of the imagination. But he showed me some things that I didn’t expect to see.
- Kick slide-Cyrus showed me that has been working really hard to improve his kick slide and ability to mirror defenders. Specifically, the ability to close the gap between him and the defender while transitioning to his punch.
- Patience-On most of his pass sets he did a good job of timing his initial punch.
- Film study-He obviously was prepared for Jones’ pass rush moves. Jones is long and loves to use a stutter rush to attack. His favorite move after his initial rush is the hand slap. When the tackle goes to punch, he slaps their hands down and rips through.
- Counters-Offensive lineman must know their opponent’s tendencies and know the counters to all of the rushes in the defender’s forte. This part of his game impressed me the most.
***If you have trouble viewing, open Youtube.***
Do I think he is a finished product, able to start on the right side? No, not yet plus Jordan Mills (PFF grade of 74 overall, #37) has played well. He currently has the 9th best pass blocking efficiency at 97.5 and has only allowed 3 total pressures.
Cyrus (PFF grade of 47.6 overall, #61) has allowed 10 total pressures and is currently sitting at a 90.4 in pass blocking efficiency which is one of the worst in the NFL. So lets stop the “move Cyrus to the right side when Glenn gets back” hype train. There is no doubt that the work that he and offensive line coach Aaron Kromer have put in is finally paying off. Kouandjio has improved his technique which has helped him overcome some of his weaknesses. He has developed really well under this regime but he is not a long-term solution at right tackle, yet.