Bengals rookies: Hakeem Adeniji will start at least two games
The offensive line was the Bengals’ biggest weakness heading into the 2020 offseason. Going into training camp, the offensive line is still the Bengals’ biggest weakness. Despite spending so much at other positions in free agency, the Cincinnati front office only brought in Xavier Su’a-Filo to compete along the line. In the draft, they waited until the sixth round to finally address the unit, where they selected Hakeem Adeniji out of Kansas.
He may be just a sixth-round pick, but the Bengals’ coaching staff has had nothing but praise for Adeniji since his selection. Offensive line coach Jim Turner even went so far as to say that he had the Kansas product graded as a second-round pick. While this could just be coach-speak, this statement is certainly intriguing. If the staff is as high on Adeniji as they let on, he could find his way into the starting lineup despite being taken so late in the draft.
Adeniji brings versatility to the Bengals’ line, where he’s able to lineup at both guard and tackle on either side of the line. With uncertainty on the right side of the line, his versatility could give him a few starting opportunities as a rookie. At right tackle, Bobby Hart and Fred Johnson are competing for the starting job, while at right guard, Xavier Su’a-Filo leads a crowded group competing for the job. Should the options at either position disappoint on the field or wear thin due to injury, Adeniji could get multiple chances to start games.
While the idea of a sixth-round rookie protecting first overall pick Burrow is scary, Adeniji may be up to the task. If the coaching staff’s praise for him is legit, he could make the most of those opportunities and surprise everyone. To start the year, the more experienced players will get a shot, but with the trouble they have had in the past, his turn could come very soon.