While Saban made sure to praise A&M's defense for its toughness and physical play, Alabama appears to have a better matchup this week than it had against Tech. The Aggies don't have the tough, savvy veterans up front that the Hokies did, nor do they have a creative coordinator like Bud Foster who can concoct unusual blitzes that lead to negative-yardage plays. Still, A&M will have a loud home crowd on its side for perhaps the most-hyped game of the early season, as well as Manziel. Say what you want about his off-field escapades, but Manziel is the Heisman Trophy winner for a reason. - The Sports Xchange
He redshirted, then played in eight games in 2011 before a knee injury ended his first season of action in Tuscaloosa early.
His undeniable upside convinced Alabama to move the ultra-reliable Barrett Jones inside to center after he had earned All-SEC and the Outland Trophy at left tackle in 2011. Though he wasn't named to the all-conference team in his first season at the so-called blind-side position, Kouandjio demonstrated the talent to earn this distinction in the future.
Regardless of when he elects to make himself eligible to the NFL, Kouandjio will be highly regarded. Frankly, he has at least as impressive a skill-set as his former linemate D.J. Fluker, who the Chargers took 11th overall in 2013.
Physically speaking, Kouandjio has everything scouts are looking for in a potential Pro Bowl left tackle, which is why he universally ranked as the elite prep lineman when signing with Alabama in 2010. The hyper-athletic Kouandjio has maintained a steady first round grade by NDS and his performance against Tennessee only solidified this ranking. (11/1/13)
He is quick off the snap and has the lateral agility to slide left to right. Kouandjio uses his athleticism in pass protection well but he's even more impressive as a run blocker, consistently out-quicking defenders to create lanes. Kouandjio relies on good placement, strong hands and an explosive jolt to turn and sustain defenders.
Perhaps most impressive is that Kouandjio plays at different speeds well. He shows very good patience in pass protection but can fire off the ball when needed. He possesses exciting quickness and mobility when blocking on the move, traits Coach Nick Saban and his staff took advantage of by asking the LT to pull and lead RBs, on occasion.
WEAKNESSES: Choppy sliding into pass protection and has a tendency to drop his head upon contact, although he was significantly improved as his second season as a starter progressed in 2013. Excellent run blocker, although not a true mauler.
COMPARES TO: Tyron Smith, OT, Dallas Cowboys - Kouandjio's lean, muscular frame and superb athleticism will remind scouts of the former USC Trojan and now-Cowboys starting left tackle, and he has at least as impressive a skill-set as his former linemate D.J. Fluker, who the Chargers took 11th overall in 2013.