• Wed. Feb 8th, 2023

By Conrad Clowers

Cincinnati Herald Contributor

They finally did it. It’s been six seasons between playoff appearances, but the Bengals are back. They will have a chance along with 14 other NFL teams to hoist the Lombardi trophy. Going into the playoffs all eyes will be on the Bengal dynamic explosive offense led by Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase.

However, by nearly a consensus, most experts agree the Bengal offensive line is their weak point in the team.

In 2020 the Bengals drafted a little known player out of Kansas.  Hakeem Adeniji was a 6th round pick. It’s usually a flip of the coin as to if a 6th round pick will even make the team, let alone be a starter. Players such as Jonah Williams (1st round pick 2020) and Jackson Carmen (2nd round pick 2020) have so many eyeballs on them that the Adenijis of the world became an afterthought.

Adeniji took his status as a 6th round pick and made the most of his time. The Kansas product would go on to start five games in his rookie season. Adeniji would go on to show much promise to the Bengal coaching staff.

It was 2021 that nearly ended before it started. The former All Big 12 standout would tear his pectoral muscle during offseason workouts. Many thought Adeniji’s season would be over.  In a spectacular turn of events, the season was not over. Through rehab and healing Adeniji was activated. Not only has he since been activated, he is starting and has been an effective starter. In fact, Adeniji starts over 2nd round draft pick Jackson Carmen.

Let’s face it. Cincinnati’s offensive line is one of the worst in the League. Joe Burrow has either led or been amongst the top of the NFL in a category he does not want to lead the league in. That category is being sacked the most.

Injuries have played a big roll and tested the depth of the Bengal offensive line. One can argue Adeniji has not only been one of the healthiest, but also one of the best Bengal offensive lineman in 2021. The Garland, Texas, native is about to have an opportunity to do something the Bengals have not done in a great while. That is play in the playoffs. Playing most of the year next to veteran offensive tackle Riley Reif has helped the young Adeniji. Many new offensive linemen get a crash coarse in being welcomed to the NFL. Adeniji had to learn, as do many lineman, the level of talent in the NFL is much higher. Defensive lineman are bigger, stronger and faster.

This past week former Bengal lineman Willie Anderson was named a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Should Anderson be named a hall of famer, he would be only the Bengals second next to Anthony Munoz. It’s much too early to say Hakeem Adeniji is a future hall of famer. He has a long way to go. He has skills to develop and a reputation to gain. His foundation has started with consistency though.

It will go a long way in establishing the former Kansas Jayhawks place on a line that is sorely in need of being effective at blocking.