Hakeem Adeniji started at offensive tackle throughout his career as a Kansas Jayhawk. Necessity forced the Cincinnati Bengals to play him at guard, but Adeniji is best suited to play on the outside.
Throughout the preseason, Adeniji has been back at tackle, showing steady improvement in every game. Against the Los Angeles Rams, Adeniji showed that he can be the team’s swing tackle, backing up both Jonah Williams on the left and La’el Collins on the right.
Let’s take a look at his performance against Los Angeles, focusing on pass protection.
Adeniji is the right tackle in all of these clips and wears number 77.
Adeniji 77 nice rep pic.twitter.com/QHtZvpPQR2— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) August 28, 2022
Adeniji gets some help from the tight end, who chips the edge rusher before releasing into a route. That doesn’t take away from how impressive Adeniji looks as he gains depth on this pass rush.
When the defender gets to Adeniji, he runs into a brick wall. This is notable because Adeniji has had trouble anchoring and dealing with power rushes in the past. True, this is not Myles Garrett who he is stopping in his tracks, but Adeniji shows marked improvement on this rep.
Adeniji 77 depth pic.twitter.com/PWlcuFGvgS— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) August 28, 2022
This time, Adeniji doesn’t get any help, but once again, he does a great job of stopping the outside rush and protecting the quarterback.
He gains depth, keeping his eyes on the rusher. Prior to contact, he settles his hips, preparing to anchor. The defender slips, which makes Adeniji’s life easier, but even as he gets up to make a second effort, Adeniji shuts him down.
Adeniji is an excellent athlete who can handle speed rushers on the outside.
Adeniji 77 post pic.twitter.com/EpXu1TzfA9— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) August 28, 2022
This appears to be a very poorly executed attempt at a twist by the Rams’ defense.
Adeniji sets for the outside rush. When the defender shoots inside, Adeniji steps down to pick up the block.
The terminology I use for this is kick-step/post. “Kick-step” is a very commonly used word for what an offensive tackle does in pass protection: kicking back and gaining depth to protect the edge. A “post-step” is when the offensive tackle steps forward and inside to stop an inside rush.
Adeniji does a nice job of stepping down and as the edge defender stunts inside. However, he doesn’t seem to feel the twist coming and remains focused on the edge defender. This allows the interior defensive linemen to get an initial pop, that knocks him back.
Adeniji has shown the ability to pick up these stunts in the past. In fact, he is a high-level processor. I actually think the fact that it was so poorly executed by the defense made his stunt harder to recognize. He was still able to pick up the block, he just gave up more ground that you’d like to see.
Adeniji 77 protection pic.twitter.com/RVcWR2DtaS— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) August 28, 2022
In this clip, the edge rusher tries to fake out Adeniji. He starts rushing to the outside, then chops his feet and turns his head and shoulders to the inside.
Adeniji is patient and not fooled. When the rusher continues to the outside, Adeniji is right there to meet him and keep the pocket clean.
The Bengals desperately needed a guard last season, and Adeniji stepped up to the plate. He had his struggles, but he was playing out of position. If the Bengals need him to step up at tackle this year, he has what it takes to keep Joe Burrow safe.