Even while standing 6-foot-7, 300 pounds and dominating the competition as an offensive lineman at DeMatha, Cyrus Kouandjio couldn’t imagine himself being an NFL football player. The Cameroon native didn’t even watch football on TV until he got to Alabama and a large playbook was plopped in his lap, leading him to study the technique of top NFL linemen on Sundays.
“People that’s been in the football business for a long time looked at me and could see I had potential to be in the NFL and I thought, ‘Wow, you think I could really do it?’” Kouandjio recalled in a recent interview. “That’s when I started believing, after my senior year in high school, because before then, I couldn’t see it.”
Now the All-American is poised to hear his name called during the NFL Draft, which begins Thursday night with the first round, followed by the second and third rounds on Friday and the fourth through seventh rounds on Saturday.
Kouandjio is one of several D.C. area natives who could be drafted by a NFL team this weekend. Here’s a breakdown of the prospects:
OL Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama, Jr.
6-7, 322 lbs
High School: DeMatha
Notable high school achievements: 2010 first-team All-Met did not allow a sack and was ranked as the nation’s consensus No. 1 offensive lineman as a senior.
2013 college stats: Allowed just 1.5 sacks and recorded 14 pancake blocks to earn first-team All-America honors.
Round projection: late first round to second round
What the experts are saying: “There’s still a chance he’s a top 40 pick. I think if you wind up getting him early in the second round then it’s a pretty good deal … If you’re comfortable with his medical and you’ve got a good offensive line coach that you trust and you’re not determined to start him Day 1, I think you’ve got a chance of getting a good deal in this draft with Kouandjio.” - ESPN’s Todd McShay
LB Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech, Sr.
6-3, 252 lbs
High School: Carroll
Notable high school achievements: 118 tackles, 14 sacks and four defensive touchdowns as a senior in 2009. Offers from Virginia, Maryland, Kansas State, Louisville and Syracuse.
2013 college stats: Twelve sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss; first-team All-ACC; third-team All-America; holds school record for career sacks with 31.5.
Draft round projection: Late first round to second round
What the experts are saying: “He does not have that great playing background like a lot of players, a late bloomer. … I love watching this guy player. He has got the violence, the temperament, flying all over the field, can bend the edge. I think he is the most underrated player in this entire draft”- ESPN’s Todd McShay
WR Michael Campanaro, Wake Forest, Sr.
5-9, 192 lbs
High School: River Hill
Notable high school achievements: 2008 All-Met Offensive Player of the Year rushed for 1.848 yards and 29 touchdowns, caught three touchdowns and returned two punts for scores. Had 71 tackles and seven interceptions as a safety.
2013 college stats: Had 67 catches for 803 yards and six touchdowns before suffering season-ending shoulder injury; finished as Wake Forest’s career leader in catches (229) and with the second-most yards (2,506).
Round projection: Late third round to sixth round
What the experts are saying: “Campanaro is one of the least-mentioned receivers in this draft. If paired with a team that wants the slot receiver as a primary weapon, Campanaro could be a bargain as one of the most surprising early producers in this talented group.” - Matt Walden, Football Outsiders.
WR Brandon Coleman, Rutgers, Jr.
6-6, 225 lbs
High School: McNamara
Notable high school achievements: Four-star recruit had 41 catches for 838 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior.
2013 college stats: After having a breakout sophomore year, he had 32 catches for 473 yards and three touchdowns for the Scarlet Knights. Finished as co-leader for career touchdowns with 20.
Round projection: fourth to fifth round
What the experts are saying: “He’s a physical talent. He didn’t put up the numbers you would have expected and he didn’t dominate and take over games the way you would have expected. … He has ability and if you press the right buttons and he maximizes his ability, he could be a factor. I think for Coleman, I’d say early Day 3 right now.” - ESPN’s Mel Kiper
QB Bryn Renner, North Carolina, Sr.
High School: West Springfield
Notable high school achievements: 2009 first-team All-Met threw for 3,123 yards and 35 touchdowns as a senior. He also rushed for 470 yards and 10 touchdowns.
2013 college stats: Following a strong junior year, Renner threw for 1,765 yards, 10 touchdowns and five interceptions in seven games before sustaining a season-ending shoulder injury (torn labrum).
Round projection: sixth or seventh round
What the experts are saying: ““Bryn Renner to me is the quarterback sleeper [in this week’s draft]. He’s got good arm strength. He’s got good release. He’s got good poise. He’s got some escapability. Not great, but some. I like his field generalship. He can make all the throws, and I think that had he had a complete senior year and not had this unfortunate injury get in the way, you’d be talking a lot more about Bryn Renner than we are in the media right now.’’ -ESPN analyst and former NFL Executive of the Year Bill Polian, according to the Pioneer Press.