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Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Crimson Countdown: Cyrus Kouandjio

By Alex Scarborough

During the summer, TideNation will analyze each of the scholarship players on the Alabama roster -- excluding the Tide's 2013 recruiting class -- in our Crimson Countdown series. Starting with No. 1 Dee Hart, we will go through the roster numerically, finishing with No. 99 Brandon Ivory

No. 71 Cyrus Kouandjio
Junior offensive lineman

Expectations for 2013: Kouandjio isn't just expected to be a starter or All-SEC performer, he's expected to be among the best left tackles in the country this season. He's already been named to the Outland Award watch list and Mel Kiper Jr. lists him as the fourth best draft prospect overall, but Kouandjio still has to prove it on the football field as a junior. He'll have every opportunity to do that, too, as he faces some of the best competition in the country with the likes of Virginia Tech, Texas A&M and LSU on the schedule.

Best-case scenario: It may not be the best-case scenario for Alabama in the long term, but it's a strong possibility that Kouandjio plays himself into a high first-round draft grade and is faced with the decision to stay in school another year or turn pro early. And given Alabama's history of advising first-round picks to take the money and run, odds are he won't be around when the 2014 season begins. At 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds with good feet and strong hands, Kouandjio is everything the NFL is looking for.

Worst-case scenario: Health might be the only thing standing in Kouandjio's way, and even then, injury isn't necessarily a strong possibility. It was last season when he was coming off major knee injury, but 14 consecutive starts later, it's safe to say he's in the best shape he can be. Should he fall out of a high first-round grade because of his play or an injury, look for Kouandjio to seriously consider staying in school, where he could finish up his degree and play another season alongside his brother, Arie, who is projected to start at left guard this fall.

Future impact: When Kouandjio leaves, Alabama won't be without options. Brandon Greene is a solid prospect at the position and will back up Kouandjio at left tackle all season. Both 2013 signees Brandon Hill and Leon Brown will have a say in the competition in 2014 as well. Also, recent Alabama commitment Dominick Jackson projects as an impact rookie, as he’s already a stout 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds in junior college in California. If none of the four pans out, No. 1 offensive tackle Cameron Robinson says he’s very high on the Crimson Tide and will decide between either Alabama or LSU at the Under Armour All-America Game in January.