D’Ante Smith vs Hakeem Adeniji
A strong indication of the belief the front office has in offensive line coach Frank Pollack was selecting D’Ante Smith in the fourth round.
Until the Bengals find a long-term fix at the right tackle spot they will continue to swing at developmental projects. This year’s shot is the 6’5 East Carolina left tackle, Smith. Smith follows on from their sixth-round selection last year Hakeem Adeniji.
Pollack will hope to develop the obvious traits the two possess and bring them on to eventual starter status. Ideally, one of them becomes the tackle of the future, but the Bengals would also be happy to mold one into a strong backup, swing tackle.
The Bengals would have hoped that Adeniji wouldn’t have had to see action in 2020, but multiple injuries along the line meant he was called into action during a three-game stretch in the second half of the year. With expectations low, Adeniji held up decently well and with further work he should continue his upwards trajectory.
The drafting of Smith should push him further. Despite being a four-year starter there are plenty of technical flaws to work on with Smith. Smith is used to dominating lower-quality opposition and that at times can mean his footwork is a second thought and becomes a bit scrappy.
The most important thing for the Bengals is that they have two opportunities to find a diamond in the rough. Riley Reiff will be the starting right tackle in 2020 but beyond that, there remains an uncertainty.
The Bengals will likely need to address the OL again next offseason but the winner of this battle has a chance to surprise everyone and claim the spot.