Keion Adams might not be a name many football fans are familiar with, but the Cincinnati Bengals seem to be interested in the former Western Michigan linebacker. The team spoke with him at the NFLPA Bowl and met with him again at his pro day a few weeks ago.
Adams was part of a big transition for Western Michigan as the team evolved from one of college football’s weakest programs back in 2013 (his freshman year) to going 13-0 and winning the MAC championship in 2016 (his senior year). Adams’ ability and leadership was a big part of that change and he now is looking to make the transition to the NFL.
In 2016, Adams led the MAC with 18 tackles for loss, he also led WMU in sacks with 7.5 and had a five game streak in 2016 in which he had at least one sack in every game.
He earned Second Team All-MAC honors in 2016, posting 49 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and 12 hurries. After seeing minimal action as a true freshman in 2013, Adams started three games in 2014, seven games in 2015 and all 14 games in 2016.
Adams is an elusive pass rusher who wins with athleticism and foot quickness, but who may lack the size and length to be considered an every-down edge player in a 3-4 front. Adams has pursuit quickness around the field and can be very disruptive when allowed to shoot gaps against the run, but he will have to prove he can set a strong edge and hold his ground at the point of attack if he wants to become anything more than a situational rusher.
We spoke with Adams — who is viewed by CBS Sports as a late round pick or priority free agent — to learn more about his past, how he’s preparing for the draft and what he thinks of the Bengals.
Cincy Jungle: If someone had never seen you play, how would you describe yourself and your football style?
Keion Adams: Athletic, I would definitely say I’m athletic. Have a quick first stop. I’m violent when I arrive to the ball. As a pass rusher, I have a knack for getting the quarterback and finding my way to the quarterback and I’m relentless to the ball.
CJ: How are you preparing for the draft?
KA: I went to California for the NFLPA game. Then went down to western Florida and have been training at Fit Speed. Brandon Marshall trains there, too. I was trained by a guy named Matt Gates. I trained there, working with NFL guys, getting into the mode of being an NFL player both physically and mentally. I know this is a business. One of the mental things that stuck out to me is that you need to act like a pro in everything you do. Working out, off-the-field and getting into the mindset of being a pro and I’m trying to pick up as many things as I can.
CJ: How did your pro day go?
KA: It went well. I got the numbers I expected. Scouts said I did a phenomenal job. They didn’t think I’d be as fluid as I was. They were impressed by my footwork and hips. I answered a lot of questions they had.
There were over 20 teams, so about half of the NFL. It was a great opportunity. One or two NFL scouts used to come to our pro day at Western Michigan so it’s a blessing to see how far we’ve come and how things have changed.
CJ: Speaking of that, what was it like being part of Western Michigan’s 13-0 season?
KA: It was a crazy ride, to be honest. Most people don’t know but we were considered the worst team in college football back in 2013. So just to see all the hard work and dedication, to see it pay off made me feel better. It was probably one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever had. We all believed in one goal. We all stood by each other. We never took our oar out of the water and we trusted the process. That’s what we did and that’s the result you saw when we won the MAC championship.
At the end of the day, I highly doubt a team would like people who were handed everything. Through this whole process, from my freshman year, I know how to work through things and handle adversity. All the lessons we learned before this season helped us and made us grow into the people we are. When things got hard, we didn’t shy away from it. It allowed us to become the people and players we are. It was something I knew we needed and I’m glad we went through it. That’s an advantage for me because it shows I can get through the storm.
CJ: What are you hoping that teams will see in you to make them interested?
KA: I’m coachable. I can take coaching and am a student of the game. I prepare well and have a passion and love for the game. People go out and play for different reasons. But, I just hope that by me going out there and putting the pads on, that my passion and energy will shine through and coaches see I’m a guy who wants to be out there and will be held accountable for everything I do and that they know I’m going to do my job.
CJ: Are the Bengals a team that interests you?
KA: Most definitely. Growing up, my best friend was a Bengals fan. So I’ve been watching them since I was little. Current guys like Dre Kirkpatrick Andy Dalton, Jeremy Hill, Vontaze Burfict, I would love to be around and learning and being a part of Bengals culture. They’re a great team, and I would love to be a part of a winning culture like theirs.
CJ: Who are some NFL players that you model your game around or enjoy watching?
KA: I try to model my game around guys like Von Miller and growing up I was a huge Lawrence Taylor fan. The Giants actually were my favorite team growing up. I want to be great, so I try to mold my game around players who are great and doing things that no other player can do.
CJ: Is there anything else you want NFL fans to know before the NFL Draft?
I just want them to know that no matter what, I’m coming in with an open mind and that no matter what task is handed to me, I’m going to give my all. It’s not only about me, but my family. I want to be able to serve and give back, and that’s the main thing.