While Alabama offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio's surgically repaired knee might have been flagged at the NFL Scouting Combine, it shouldn't affect his ability to play in the NFL in the short term, the Crimson Tide's team doctor told NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport. At the combine, Rapoport reported via Twitter that several NFL teams had failed Kouandjio on his physical examination due to an arthritic knee.
Dr. Lyle Cain told Rapoport he understood that some NFL teams gave Kouandjio a grade of 4, and others a 3, on a 1-5 scale on his combine medical exam. A rating of 1 indicates an injury-free prospect, while a rating of 5 indicates a significant, and potentially undraftable, risk. A rating of 4 indicates "a significant injury or injuries that may affect longevity, but they aren't lame or disabled. It just may affect them later," Cain told Rapoport. A rating of 3, Cain said, indicates a significant injury but not one that would affect a player in the long term.
Kouandjio ran the slowest 40-yard dash time of any prospect at the combine (5.59 seconds), which prompted further speculation about the health of his knees. Still, the early-entry prospect is considered among the draft's top left tackles and Cain is confident in his ability to play at the next level.
"Cyrus had some injuries his freshman year, a torn ACL and an MCL. We fixed it that year, two years ago. At the time, he had a little minor articular cartilage wear in his knee. A little bit of an injury. That's just playing football. ... But the combination of the ACL, MCL and articular cartilage wear makes teams concerned there may be a longevity issue," Cain said. "The reality is, he played 27 games after the injury, never missed a practice, and never had the knee treated. These kinds of cartilage injuries are common in sports."
Alabama trainer Jeff Allen also is confident Kouandjio can have a normal pro career.
"There's no question, with his knee, that is something that's going to have to be paid attention and dealt with, with the understanding at times it may limit him," Allen said. "At times, I'm talking about down the road, 5-6 years down the road, not this year."
Of significance for Kouandjio could be the difference between the 3 rating and the 4, and what teams assigned him with which grade. The potential of a long-term issue with the knee could be a compelling factor for clubs which rated him with a 4, while those rating him a 3 might have no qualms about investing a first-round pick in a player of Kouandjio's caliber, particularly given that he plays a premium position as a left tackle.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.