ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP MODIFIED) — First, the Buffalo Bills provided their EJ Manuel-led offense a dynamic playmaker in the NFL draft. Next up, they gave their quarterback some added protection.
The Bills opened the second round on Friday by trading down three spots and selecting Alabama offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio with the 44th pick.
Kouandjio is listed at 6-foot-6 and 322 pounds, and he left Alabama after three seasons. He addresses Buffalo’s need at tackle, and will be given a chance to compete for the starting job on the right side.
The Bills moved back by making a trade with St. Louis. In swapping second-round picks, the Bills also picked up the Rams’ fifth-round selection (153rd overall).
Kouandjio’s addition comes after the Bills opened the draft by making a splash on Thursday. That’s when they traded up five spots to select Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins with the fourth pick.
Watkins’ addition prompted Buffalo to trade receiver Stevie Johnson to the San Francisco 49ers hours before the second round began.
Kouandjio’s selection follows the objective general manager Doug Whaley laid out in the weeks entering the draft. It was his desire to add talent on offense to help further Manuel’s progress after an inconsistent rookie season last year.
“We’ve got to score more points,” Whaley said. “Outside, we brought some weapons in, and we also needed to solidify the line. And that was the plan with drafting Cyrus.”
Manuel oversaw a sputtering offense that contributed to Buffalo’s 6-10 record and extend the NFL’s longest active playoff drought to 14 seasons. His development was also slowed by three separate knee injuries that caused him to miss six regular season and two preseason games.
Kouandjio started 26 of 35 games with the Crimson Tide. Last year, he was credited with allowing 1-1/2 sacks on 365 pass attempts.
He is from Cameroon. He was five, when his family moved to the United States and settled in Maryland.
Whaley described Kouandjio as a “prototypical right tackle” and was especially impressed by the player’s size.
The selection was announced by former Bills receiver Andre Reed, who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August.
The Bills have five selections left, and are next scheduled to pick 73rd.
Note: A source close to the Bills informed News 4 Sports that they would have chosen running back Carlos Hyde with their second-round pick if Kouandjio was not available.