The Bills traded back from the 41st overall pick to the 44th and chose Alabama offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, a 6-6, 310-pound native of Cameroon who moved to the U.S. when he was 5 years old.
Kouandjio played left tackle for the Crimson Tide, but he is expected to play on the right side for the Bills. Cordy Glenn appears to be a fixture at left tackle and right tackle was seen as one of the team's major needs. There was plenty of speculation that they would take a right tackle at No. 9 overall.
This was a logical pick, and it seems like good value. There were draft experts who figured Kouandjio would go near the top of the second round. Redskins writers were pushing for Washington take him at 34 overall and make him the starting right tackle. The Bills were able to move back three picks in the second round and pick up an additional fifth-round pick in the process.
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"We're extremely excited to get Cyrus in the second round," general manager Doug Whaley said. "We projected him as a first-round pick, and we didn't think we'd have a chance to get him at our pick in the second round. So we're very ecstatic to be sitting here right now talking about him."
Whaley was asked if he was worried that Kouandjio would go between the 41st and 44th overall pick, since he had him tagged as a first-rounder.
"We had a group of players that we were very comfortable with in that range, that if he did go we had another guy we would be extremely happy with picking," Whaley said.
Kouandjio, a consensus 2013 All-American and unanimous all-SEC pick, allowed just 1.5 sacks last season and was credited with 17 touchdown-springing blocks. He and his brother, Arie, were O linemen on two national champions at Alabama. He said he was pleased to be drafted by the Bills and ready to come to town and compete.
"I think that's where I need to be," he said. "Because it's a great environment for me to master my craft. I will play left, right, in and out. It doesn't matter."
Some scouts were concerned with lingering effects of an injury to Kouandjio's left knee. There were reports that he failed physicals with other teams. But he said his knee is fine. Whaley said it wasn't a big issue with the Bills' brain trust.
"We have supreme confidence in our medical staff," Whaley said, "and we look at not only our medical staff and what they come back with, but his resume. The guy didn't miss practice and he didn't miss games. We're comfortable with it."
Whaley was asked if he expected Cyrus to start on opening day. "We expect him to contribute early," Whaley said. "Opening day? Not sure. I can't put a timetable on it. It depends on howhe comes in and grasps the offense. Your first- and second-round picks have to contribute early, and even your third. That's the way we attack the draft."