Cyrus Kouandjio looks like an NFL starter to me. He's got the strength and technique necessary to make a fine tackle at the next level, and if there are issues with his athleticism and conditioning, those can probably be ironed out by a quality coaching staff.
Yet if the Falcons wind up with Kouandjio in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, I'll be legitimately concerned. The reason for that is injury.
You simply can't predict the vast majority of injuries that occur in the NFL, because so many of them are freak things. A running back's leg gives out, a helmet meets a helmet and suddenly you're looking at weeks, months or an entire season lost. It's a different story when someone has a pre-existing injury, particularly one that involves the knees. Those injuries—along with those to the back—have a nasty habit of never entirely going away.
That's what makes me fearful of someone like Kouandjio. It's one thing to expend a mid-to-late round draft pick on a player who is recovering from an injury, with the intent to stash them for a year and bank on a full recovery and their natural talent shining through in 2015 and beyond. It's another to spend a high-round draft pick on a tackle who has reportedly been medically failed or at least moved down the draft boards of four separate teams.
The Falcons will have done their due diligence to a far greater degree than I could ever hope to, but it's impossible to look back at this team's draft history and not get gunshy about taking a player with major medical concerns. I could see the Falcons going a lot of different directions with their first two picks, but I can't see Kouandjio being one of them. Given his talent that's a legitimate shame, but the Falcons can only have so much appetite for risk.
Your thoughts on Kouandjio and players with injury risks?