The Case for Edmund Kugbila

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Now before I get into the meat of the article, I want to address Edmund Kugbila’s past. Kugbila and his family grew up in Ghana, Africa, and moved to America when he was ten after his family won a visa lottery which distributes about 50,000 visas to immigrants from locations around the world. The family ended up in an outskirt of Atlanta, Georgia. He started out as a soccer player, skinny and athletic, but as he grew he ended up making the switch to American football. He started getting looks from D-I schools but his grades were not up to par. He ended up at D-II school, Valdosta State, where he helped the team win a National championship his senior year.

His story is an incredible one, no? Now, on to the actual reason for the article, why Kugbila?

Dave Gettleman had this to say to the Charlotte Observerabout Kugbila, “The thing that I’ve harped on with the scouts is (a lineman) has to be instinctive. If he’s not a naturally instinctive football player, you’re wasting your time at the end of the day. Beyond all the physical skills, the kid is smart and instinctive.” Ron Rivera had this to say as well, “Guys that are big, heavy bodies who move and have athleticism are rare and hard to find. We’re very fortunate to have a guy like that.”

Feb 21, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Carolina Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman speaks at a press conference during the 2013 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Now I was a little skeptical when the Panthers chose yet another D-II standout. We all know that Amini Silatolu hasn’t exactly been the best Offensive Lineman on the Panther’s squad, and there were times when he seemed completely lost out on the field. Kugbila is a different story though. Apparently, Kugbila has extreme athleticism for a man his size, which is a stout 317 pounds. Kugbila had an 81.7 percent blocking consistency rating while at Valdosta State, and even though his combine stats were not something to gawk over, his blocking consistency was enough to catch the eye of Offensive Line coach Ray Brown. Another tid-bit about Kugbila that is worth mentioning is the fact that he entered college weighing in at over 400 pounds and ended up cutting it to the 317 that he stands at now.

The reason for the article is this, where does Kugbila fit? The Carolina Panther’s needed an Offensive Lineman. Hangartner, Byers, and Silatolu were not cutting last year; they left Cam being rushed out of the pocket constantly. Granted, Byers would not have been playing and Hangartner wouldn’t have been at the Center position if it wasn’t for injuries, but with Kalil back, Hangartner will move back to Right Guard and Byers will be back to the bench.

Now Kugbila adds a new piece to the Panther’s OL puzzle. Bell, Kalil, and Gross are all going to be starters unless something drastic happens. I suspect Silatolu to back at the starting Left Guard spot as well. Kugbila does add something new to the scheme of the OL. Hangartner isn’t my favorite player, let’s just make that fact known, and I’m already partial to Kugbila just because of his cool background. Kugbila will definitely working for a starting Right Guard spot and the aging Hangartner, who would be regulated to the bench on any other NFL team, should be sweating bullets right now.

Nov 26, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Carolina Panthers guard Geoff Hangartner (63) takes a drink prior to playing the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The Panthers defeated the Eagles 30-22. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Kugbila, in my opinion, has been brought in because of his work ethic. He had a pre-draft rating of 52 percent on NFL.com and CBSsports.com had him going in the seventh round or as an undrafted free agent. According to the pre-draft ratings, the only reason the Panthers chose him was because of his work ethic, that has to be the only logical explanation.

As of right now I would expect Kugbila to be a backup to Silatolu and Hangartner, though I will definitely be cheering for him to overtake Hangartner’s spot. I think he has a huge amount of upside and provides some definite competition to the Offensive Line unit. I think Hangartner needs to be replaced soon and I would love for Edmund Kugbila to be the replacement. Those are my opinions on one of the newest Panthers, but what are yours? Please leave them in the comments below.

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