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How real is the Bengals’ interest in Notre Dame RB Josh Adams?

The Bengals have paid a lot of attention to former Notre Dame running back, Josh Adams. But will they draft him to compete with the talented stable of running backs already on the roster in Cincinnati?

North Carolina State v Notre Dame Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Josh Adams really tore it up in 2017 for the Fighting Irish. He ran for more than 1,400 rushing yards with a 6.9 yards per carry average. However, he isn’t being talked about as a top running back. In fact most experts think he will end up being a late pick on the third day of the draft. Will Adams end up being a diamond in the rough, or will he struggle to stay on a roster?

The Bengals have already kept a close eye on the running back. Bengals running backs coach Kyle Caskey even ran him through his pro day drills. Even with the Bengals paying this much attention to him, could they really end up drafting a running back this year? If he falls to the right spot, it’s certainly possible.


Height: 6’2”

Weight: 220 pounds

Class: Junior

Position: Running back

College: Notre Dame

Projected Round: Rounds 5-7

Bench press: 18 reps

NFL Comparison: A slightly lighter Brandon Jacobs



Adams is an impressive looking running back. He is big, and he has enough speed to break off some big runs. The biggest thing working against him is how long it takes him to get going, but if he has the space to get up to full speed it will be hard for second level tacklers to bring him down.

One of the reasons people aren’t terribly impressed by his stats from 2017 is because he was blessed to run behind Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey on the left side of his offensive line, which is something that made his job a lot easier. If he goes somewhere with a great offensive line, he could very well put up some big numbers. Maybe he’ll even land with one of his former teammates, both of whom are expected Round 1 draft picks.

Adams also didn’t get to show off his pass catching abilities or pass protection that much because Notre Dame ran the ball so much. He did show he is able to do that at his pro day though and he’s a large target so he certainly has the ability to fit into a zone-style running game. If that is something a team is banking on him bringing to the table, he could very well get drafted a little bit earlier than expected.

Adams is a linear one-cut style runner who doesn’t have high end lateral quickness to accelerate out of quick cuts well. He is able to make a man miss in open space every so often, but no one is going to say he is elusive by any means. His biggest strength is being able to run through arm tackles. If he gets drafted on the third day, I think a team will be very happy with him.

How he would fit with the Bengals

The Bengals let Jeremy Hill walk in free agency, so there’s a spot for the taking at running back. Say what you will about him, but Hill was a great goal line running back. It seems like the Bengals may think Adams can fill that role while being able to grow his skill set in the passing game.

However, the Bengals’ roster already seems stacked with running backs. Of course the team has Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard leading the way. We should also expect a better year from Bernard next season since he won’t be coming into the season fresh off an ACL injury. The team also added Brian Hill last season when Jeremy Hill went on Injured Reserve. Brian Hill showed some flashes of being a competent backup running back when Mixon was out for a few games. Of course the Bengals also have Tra Carson, who showed some flashes during last year’s preseason before landing on IR himself.

If the Bengals were to draft Adams, his quest for a spot on the 53-man roster could be more dependent on injuries than anything else. If he becomes the best player available in Rounds 6 or 7, Adams is in play, but the Bengals won’t be reaching for him.