After having really solidifying the interior of their offensive line, David Gettleman turned his attention to the offensive line issues with his 3rd selection of the 2013 NFL Draft, choosing Valdosta State guard Edmund Kugbila in the 4th round.
The move looks like that troublesome, thin right guard spot just got fixed and will send Geoff Hangartner to the bench to be that valuable sixth man who can fill in for any interior OL need at the drop of a hat, and that’s something underrated in my opinion. It’s almost a necessity to have a “sixth starter” on the offensive line, and even a seventh if a team has the luxury of having a 3rd tackle that can come in and be effective, but the Panthers are doing what they need to do in order to help that inside running game that really went south when All-Pro center Ryan Kalil went down with a knee injury in 2012.
The 6’4″ 317 lb. Kugbila and top-five pick Ziggy Ansah have one thing in common in particular: Both are natives of Ghana, a small African nation.
Reportedly, a low SAT score kept him from the likes of half the schools in the SEC that were recruiting him out of high school, but don’t make the mistake of letting that make you think he’s not too smart. Again, he’s not a native of this country so doing poorly on a standardized test doesn’t necessarily mean anything when you consider his roots.
His game film shows a powerful blocker who recorded the second-most “pancake blocks” on his team as a tackle in 2011 before being moved inside to guard last season.
He also has something in common with Cam Newton. Kugbila helped Valdosta State win the national championship in his final season in college, so there are already NFL similarities.
Kugbila had a 7th round/free agent rating on him going into the draft, but as I’ve maintained for some time, all it takes is ONE team to fall in love with you to be taken higher, and with his experience as a tackle (albeit limited), he has the potential to slide back outside in case of an injury to one of the starters.
So far it looks like Gettleman likes drafting kids that have multiple talents and/or experience. Star Lotulelei can play any position asked along the defensive line with the possible exception of RDE, where he lacks elite pass-rush skills in part due to his large frame, but he could work as a LDE (strong side DE) and be a great anchor setting the edge against the run, but of course tackle is his natural spot.
Kugbila’s tangibles at the NFL combine showed pedestrian athleticism even for a lineman, where he recorded “only” 23 reps on the bench press.
This stat is highly deceiving, however, as he has some VERY long arms for his 6’4″ height. He has 35″ long arms, and it’s much more difficult for a guy with long arms to pound out 30+ reps on the bench. The only one I know of is SMU DE Margus Hunt, who went much higher than Kugbila in round two.
Looking over the updated scouting report, he had worked out for the New England Patriots AND….the Carolina Panthers.
Kugbila’s strength and long arms should, along with some NFL-level coaching, get his hand punching to be very effective in pass protection with his reach and the data on his pancake blocks sounds like he’s a solid run-blocker as well.
Since he comes from a small school, he’ll likely face quite a learning curve just like last year’s small-school guard pick, Amini Silatolu of Midwestern State, Kugbila’s switch from tackle to guard occured during his last college season so he at least brings more experience at the position into training camp than Silatolu did.
While I’m not certain why the Panthers took him over several of the other higher-rated prospects available, they undoubtedly saw something in this kid that they really like and feel he would be a very good fit in the Carolina Panthers power running game.