In day two of our look at Alabama players in the NFL, we continue our focus on former offensive linemen. Joe Pendry was Nick Saban’s first offensive line coach in Tuscaloosa and he put together the foundation that has lead many Alabama players to the NFL. Today’s look at Crimson Tide in the NFL begins with the famous Kouandjio brothers.
Arie Kouandjio, Washington Redskins, Offensive Guard
6’5″, 310 pounds
4 years, $2.8 million
Arie Kouandjio is the older of the two brothers but will be entering his rookie season in the NFL after being in Tuscaloosa for five years. The fourth-round pick lived with his family in Hyattsville, Maryland which just so happens to be where Washington plays. Over his last two seasons at Alabama, Arie did not allow a single sack. However, the problem seems to be his durability. Both of his knees have been surgically repaired in the past and being in the NFL has never made that easier on a linemen. Arie Kouandjio is currently sitting in the second spot at left guard on Washington’s depth chart, which isn’t surprising for the rookie. If his health holds up, the former Tide star could have a bright future in his high school town.
Cyrus Kouandjio, Buffalo Bills, Offensive Tackle
6’7″, 322 pounds
4 years, $4.8 million
Cyrus Kouandjio is the youngest of the brothers but has had even bigger expectations. He was drafted with the 44th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft and was expected to compete for the starting job in Buffalo. However, it did not work out that way as Kouandjio was less than impressive throughout preseason camp and got his only playing time on special teams in Week 11. He has been working with new trainers in the offseason and feels like he has made enough strides to fight for the starting role this season. He is currently listed as the second right tackle behind Seantrel Henderson.
Austin Shepherd, Minnesota Vikings, Offensive Tackle
6’4″, 327 pounds
4 years, $2.35 million
Austin Shepherd was not a big name when he got to Tuscaloosa and it took him awhile to find a starting role. The Vikings’ seventh-round draft pick may have to face the same situation entering the NFL. Shepherd currently sits at third on the depth chart at the right tackle position but coaches have said that they may move the rookie around to find a spot for him. Shepherd has impressed with his knowledge for the game and offensive line but he may lack the raw talent that some of his other teammates possess. At the end of the day, Shepherd is on an NFL roster and he is making an impact on and off the field.
Anthony Steen, Arizona Cardinals, Offensive Lineman
6’3″, 310 pounds
3 years, $1.54 million
Anthony Steen is another former Crimson Tide linemen who is just trying to find a place for himself in the NFL. Steen is still listed as a guard on all of his biography pages but the Cardinals currently have him listed as their third-string center. Steen didn’t play in any games in 2014 but he was moved up from the practice squad for the final five games of the season. He has already moved up in training camp this year, taking reps at center with the second-team offense. Steen has a long way to go before becoming an every day linemen in the NFL but being able to make the roster of a playoff team is not easy.
Caleb Turrentine is a contributor at Touchdown Alabama Magazine. Follow him on Twitter, @CalebTurrentine.