The Bengals’ offensive line was hardly addressed this offseason, but it wasn’t completely ignored.
Xavier Su’a-Filo was signed in free agency to be a short-term solution at right guard. Sixth-round pick Hakeem Adeniji may take over for Su’a-Filo at that spot in due time, or perhaps he’ll become the right tackle of the future.
Adeniji was the team’s lone draft pick along the line, and someone offensive line coach Jim Turner raved about during his appearance on the Bengals Beat Podcast with Dan Hoard and Dave Lapham. Turner even dropped that he had Adeniji graded in a much higher round than where the team drafted him.
“I graded him as a second-round pick,” Turner said. “I graded him as a second or third-round pick, and I really liked him on tape…He got drafted way behind when he should’ve been drafted. I could not believe that nobody else picked him up. Like, we had other needs, so, we weren’t able to get him the second, third, fourth round...When he’s still sitting there in the sixth-round, like, you got to be kidding me.”
Very rarely are coaches and team personnel members open to share how players were not high on their boards when they drafted them, but it’s still interesting to hear how valued Adeniji was to Turner and the coaching staff. As a member of the North squad at the Senior Bowl, Adeniji had some time to talk to Turner and the rest of the staff, but the scouting combine was where Turner’s commendation was solidified.
Adeniji ultimately lasted well beyond the second round of the draft because he simply didn’t play well enough to be selected there. He brings all the other traits Turner is excited about, but his athleticism, preparation, and versatility didn’t boost his resume enough to hide the inconsistent play he put on tape for four years at Kansas.
Nonetheless, if Adeniji does develop into the player Turner believes him to be, he’ll be one of the Bengals’ best sixth-round picks in a while.