long read, sorry. tl;dr at bottom.
ok...so last night i made the mistake of drinking too much coffee and couldn't go to sleep and there wasn't anything that i felt like watching that would put me to sleep and for some reason it popped into my head to try and find some videos of valdosta st. from the last couple years to see kugbila in action. watching offensive line play seemed like a good way to bore myself to sleep.
i spent over an hour and a half watching highlights/key plays of games and episodes of the david dean show (their head coach) while he went over what went right and went wrong in games. none of what i watched was a "best of" like many videos out there. it wasn't focused on him, it was focused on the team so i figured it was a better way of seeing what this guy has.
from what i saw....i got it. i understood why he was drafted when he was. i saw what i think gettleman and rivera saw in him.
here's my take as a layman.
first, the guy is a monster. not only is he big, he plays big. he uses every bit of his size, weight, strength, and wingspan to his advantage. i don't know how many plays i saw, but aside from a couple, he absolutely dominated everyone he went up against. i saw one guy who looked like he gave him a run for the money in the strength dept. and another got to him quickly and made a spin move around him (tho he didn't make it to the QB, but i'll talk about that a little bit later). aside from those couple instances, if he got his hands on you, whether pushing or pulling, you went where he wanted you to go. with that wingspan, he could get his hands on you from about anywhere. i know that there's lots of guys with long wingspans in the league, but for some reason they just look longer on him.
anyway, the second thing i notice is how fast he is for a guy his size. he's not graceful by any stretch of the imagination, but he moves quickly and suddenly. when it was a run play he had no problem moving people out of the way and moving into the second level and staying ahead of the RBs. he was able to get himself into position to deal with blitzers pretty easily. when asked to trap he got to the left side really qucikly and hit his assignment.
one thing about his speed and i guess about his size, i watched games from 2011 and 2012 understanding he was raw and those were his first two years playing guard, moving over from tackle. i just wanted to see growth from year one to year two, which i did. what i didn't count on and just didn't occur to me was the amount of weight he lost between '11 and '12. in the last two years he's lost about 75 pounds. it showed up quite a bit in the way he moved, but he lost nothing i could tell in regards to power.
another thing i noticed was his awareness. the guy has his head on a swivel and is always watching everything around him and making sure his QB is protected and his RB has room to run. he's also very quick to react when he sees an opportunity.
one other thing that struck me was how often he had no one to block and had to go look for someone to hit. defenses avoided him quite often. i think it had to do with the likelihood of you getting thrown down like a rag doll if you got near him. i saw a couple times that he threw two people down at the same time. i saw some instance where he would hit a guy and they would go back about 5 yards. i know he wouldn't have it that easy in the pros, but i don't think that he would be anywhere among the weaker player in competitions. i think he's still going to have the strength to control his spot on the line and he will win most contests with DTs and DEs.
you may have seen that he didn't allow any sacks and only a handful of QB pressures in 24 games. when you watch you can understand why. he's a wall. a big wide wall and if you try to encroach it thru his section you weren't going to get through. he kept his hands out wide and his head always moving, looking for someone that might try to get by.
in the run game he's a flat out mauler. running plays that went to the right side had a much greater chance of success. if you were at the goalline or near it, if you want to score, you run where kugbila is and thru the hole he created. it was that simple. the path to a rushing TD or short yardage situation went through kugbila land. i saw one play on the goalline that he fell down, and not just to his knees, but all the way forward keeping his hands on the guys on the DL and he still had enough push to keep defenders at bay while the RB ran in.
i could go on and on about what i saw, but i think you might have gotten the idea. the guy is a beast and can be good as a pass blocker and will be great as a run blocker. he's got the size, strength, and speed you need to succeed.
now for weaknesses...
he's raw. i know rivera said it, but he wasn't kidding around. he's got a lot of natural talent and a good solid base of skill to work from, but he's someone that has to be coached up and gotten some experience. he's not very technically sound, but he showed enough improvement from what i saw those two years to know that he can learn technique. i think that early on he's going to get outsmarted and at times out-manuevered by experienced players, but it's all stuff that will come with time. i think also that because of that, there's going to be some holding calls made when guys get behind him. he has a lot of patience and can handle delayed blitzes, but the thing that he will struggle with, at least early on is what i mentioned earlier...spin moves off the snap. if a player is fast and sudden enough they can spin around him but he's good at recovering and will be able to keep the sack from happening, but often it will come with a holding call.
in contests of strength, tho, like bull rushes he can hold his own. it's just against speed rushers on the inside that he'll have problems with.
another weakness is that momentum gets the better of him sometimes. it doesn't happen as much lately since he's not so top heavy, but i see him falling forward more than i'd like. once he strengthens his base and learns better technique, this shouldn't be an issue for long.
also when he tries to cut block, it's just awkward looking and it's not successful all the time. i mean if he hits you, you're going backward or falling down, but he's also easy to avoid and get around. either he learns how to do it better or he cuts it out altogether.
tl;dr version.... he's simply just a big powerful beast of an OG that will be stout and reliable in pass pro and a mauler/roadgrader in run blocking. he's a natural at RG and fits well what we do, imo. i don't think he should start right away, but he should get on the field and worked into the rotation early. i can see him being able to supplant hangartner in the next year and being a reliable guard for years to come. i'm not calling him all-pro or anything like that, but what i am saying is that he can be the guy we need on the OL.
i don't know why he slipped in the "experts" rankings, but i can understand the appeal to guys like gettleman and rivera and offensive line coaches who saw him. he's got size and power and speed and he's got not just room to grow, but the ability to grow. we drafted him because he fits what the team wants better than others we could have drafted in the 4th.