- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 2, 2015

Rapper Wale stood on a stage at FedEx Field on Saturday afternoon to announce the Washington Redskins‘ fourth-round pick. A Washington D.C. native, it was only fitting that he announced the selection of a player with local flavor, too.

With the 112th overall selection, the Redskins picked Alabama offensive lineman Arie Kouandjio, who attended DeMatha High School in Hyattsville, Maryland. Kouandjio will help bolster a dilapidated Redskins‘ offensive line and return to his old stomping grounds in Washington.

“It means everything in the world,” he said in a conference call. “My house just exploded. Everybody’s super excited.”

Kouandjio watched the draft surrounded by friends and family, including his parents and siblings. His younger brother, Cyrus, a member of the Buffalo Bills, was among the crowd.

Kouandjio is listed at 6 feet 5 and 315 pounds and spent the majority of last season as Alabama’s starting left guard. He said he had been in touch with the Redskins since the two parties spoke at the Senior Bowl and felt they had a connection.

And yes, he grew up a Redskins fan.

“My older brother was always the big Redskins fan. It kind of just rubbed off on me growing up a little bit,” Kouandjio said. “But gosh. I couldn’t imagine that I would be going back to D.C. and gosh, it feels so awesome.”

Kouandjio is the second offensive lineman selected by the Redskins in 2015, joining Iowa’s Brandon Scherff, whom they picked fifth overall.

“Big, physical offensive guard,” coach Jay Gruden said Saturday. “You talk about offensive line depth, you can never have too many big guys that can move the pile — powerful people. Knowing him and talking to him at the combine, he’s a very good person who works very, very hard. Very detailed in what he does, and he’ll be a good fit for us.”

Shawn Lauvao started at left guard for the Redskins last season and struggled at times. While Kouandjio will likely not be ready to slide into the starting lineup on Day 1, he gives Washington another long-term option at the position.

“I feel like I pull well,” Kouandjio said. “I feel like I’m powerful, I feel like I’m very balanced and have great pass protection. I feel like I’m tenacious and I feel like I bring a lot of energy and a fierceness, and a warrior mentality to everything I do.”

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