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Getting to know Edmund Kugbila

With the 108th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers select: Edmund Kugbila, Offensive Guard, Valdosta State.

Well, there was certainly a mixed reaction from the CSR faithful on this selection. Although the Panthers had expressed interest in the Ghana native as noted in the Panthers Draft Prospects Tracker, many had never even heard of Edmund Kugbila prior to the selection. Thus, some were brought to a rude awakening, thinking that new Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman had just dropped the ball. If you happened to fall into this category, then that's alright. Hopefully, this post will help warm you up to the largely unknown offensive line prospect and what he can bring to the Cam Newton-led offense.

I have heard about Kugbila since mid-March, when he was featured in the annual Pro Football Weekly Draft Guide. I would've loved to watch tape of the kid. But, unfortunately, resources for the casual football fan are rather limited.

After analyzing the Panthers offensive line draft selections from the previous two drafts, I've noticed a pattern. The Panthers love big, physical lineman with length, toughness, and a gritty demeanor. Amini Silatolu, Zach Williams, and Lee Ziemba all share these traits. Considering where Ron Rivera and former offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski had previously coached, this notion didn't come as a surprise to me. Traditionally, the Air-Coryell offense covets lineman with the aforementioned characteristics (which San Diego utilized during the Norv Turner era). Thus, I was scouring through the offensive line prospects, seeking for ones that could schematically fit in the Panthers offense. There were two prospects that caught my eye. The first was Illinois guard Hugh Thornton, a talented but troubled lineman who was selected by the Indianapolis Colts with the 86th pick. The other was Edmund Kugbila.

From what I was able to read up on Kugbila, I came to the realization that he was a player reminiscent of last year's second round selection, Amini Silatolu. I'll start off by comparing the two prospects' physical measurables.

(Note: Amini's and Edmund's numbers came from the scouting combine and pro day, respectively.)

Height

Weight

Arm Length

Hand Length

40 dash time

20 dash time

10 dash time

225 lb. reps

Vertical Jump

Broad Jump

20 yd. Shuttle

3-Cone Drill

Amini Silatolu

6'3 ½''

311

33 ¼''

10''

5.33

3.05

1.83

28

31 ½''

8'11''

4.87

7.95

Edmund Kugbila

6'4 3/8''

319

34''

10''

5.13

2.98

1.75

24

26 ½''

8'9''

4.65

7.72

The chart above illustrates that, while Kugbila has the size and athleticism advantages, Silatolu has advantages in strength and lower-body explosion. Nevertheless, both lineman certainly have the requisite physical tools to thrive in the NFL at offensive guard. But, greater similarities among the two lineman are within their style of play.

(Note: The following analysis is based on Pro Football Weekly's write-up of these two lineman. I'm simply summarizing the similarities shared between the two write-ups)

One statement that can be used to characterize both lineman is: finisher that plays with a nasty streak and seeks to bury opponents. Both lineman are exceptionally agile and explosive for their size. Both lineman can floor defenders using a quick, heavy, and explosive punch. Both lineman play with a nasty streak that helps create movement in the running game. Both have the extension and reach to anchor in pass protection. Both lineman have the toughness and physical demeanor desired for power-blocking schemes. Both lineman appear to have a passion for the game and a desire to become great.

With all of that being said, both offensive lineman are relatively raw technique-wise, coming from spread offenses in the Division II ranks. Certainly, the learning curve from a spread to a pro-style offense is steep. Adjusting to the speed of the pro game can be even steeper coming from such a lower level of competition. Amini's early struggles from last season were well-documented, before he eventually showed the promise and potential that got him drafted in the second round towards the end of the season. Kugbila is likely going to face similar growing pains if he is thrust into the lineup in the early portion of the season. However, one notable difference between Amini's and Kugbila's development is their college position. At Midwestern State, Amini played the left tackle position. A position switch from left tackle to left guard created an even greater detriment to his learning curve. Kugbila, on the other hand, will, presumably, play at right guard, the same position he played at Valdosta State. So, Kugbila may be able to pick up the speed of the game faster than Amini did last season.

Offensive line coaches John Matsko and Ray Rhodes are going to have their work cut out for them developing Kugbila. But, I think their desire to develop raw lineman with high ceilings speaks volumes. Kugbila has a tendency to bend at the waist and could stand to improve his instincts and anticipation (if they can be corrected). Another issue concerning Kugbila is that he has suffered multiple concussions. Time will tell if this will be an issue moving forward. One more glaring issue is that his weight has been known to be fluid. Kugbila came to Valdosta State as a 400 lb. freshman. Pro Football Weekly originally listed Kugbila at 362 and noted that he "likes to overeat." Hopefully, Kugbila will not fall into the same trap that 2009 fifth-rounder Duke Robinson fell into and eat himself out of the league.

Kugbila certainly fits from a needs perspective. Kugbila could challenge incumbent Geoff Hangartner for the starting right guard spot. My expectation is that, barring any injuries, Kugbila will learn and develop for a year before supplanting Hangartner after his contract expires. Hopefully, by then, Kugbila will be ready for the big leagues.

PFW grades Kugbila as a 4th-5th round prospect. We'll never know if Kugbila would have made it to Carolina's 5th round selection. To me, a 4th round pick would warrant a contributor in a limited capacity (not a full-time starter) and/or a developmental prospect that has the potential to develop into a starter. As an offensive lineman, Kugbila falls into the latter category. But, if Kugbila ends up starting sooner rather than later, then the value of this pick would obviously be much greater.

From a schematic perspective, Kugbila almost fits the bill to a tee. Kugbila fits perfectly into what the Panthers are trying to build: a physical, aggressive, attacking offensive line. Kugbila has all of the physical tools and characteristics of an archetypal offensive guard. But, like Amini Silatolu, Kugbila is going to have quite a transition moving up from the Division II ranks. Ultimately, Kugbila's progression is dependent upon both the coaching staff's ability to develop him and how well Kugbila responds to their coaching. If Kugbila can make strides in his development and keep his weight in check, then, in time, this pick could be considered an excellent selection.

If you haven't already, check out Edmund Kugbila's interview with the Charlotte media to find out more about his journey to the NFL.

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