While not as pressing a need for the San Francisco 49ers, the offensive line is something worth reinforcing in the 2020 NFL Draft, and Hakeem Adeniji could do just that.
There’s little doubting the San Francisco 49ers need to think about upgrades at safety, wide receiver and cornerback during the 2020 NFL Draft.
Among those needs, even if it is a little less pressing than the others, is the offensive line.
Veteran left tackle Joe Staley will turn 36 years old before the regular season begins. Right guard Mike Person has zero in guaranteed money on his current contract this upcoming year, and he could be a cap casualty. And even if the Niners elect to cut Person, then insert backup lineman Daniel Brunskill in his place, the need to reinforce San Francisco’s depth up front becomes even more of a need.
This will be a difficult challenge in the 2020 draft. As things stand now, the 49ers are armed with just one pick over the first four rounds, No. 31 overall, before selecting twice in Round 5, once in Round 6 and then two more times in Round 7.
Even if the Niners trade out of their first pick and acquire some day-two draft capital, it’s likely those selections wind up being used on those aforementioned needs. The O-line probably winds up being a day-three need.
If this is the case, looking at Kansas interior offensive lineman Hakeem Adeniji would be a good idea.
The 6-foot-4, 302-pound lineman was a four-year starter at tackle for the Jayhawks. But size limitations likely mean he’s destined for interior duties at the pro level. Still, there’s a lot to like about his pedigree and enough to suggest he’d be an excellent fit for San Francisco in the later rounds.
One of those attributes is Adeniji’s movement skills. At the 2020 NFL Combine, Adeniji ran an impressive 5.17 40-yard time, which is quite good for an offensive lineman. Moving around is something he can do well, although there are questions about his footwork and overall technique.
These can be masked, however, by a move inside especially in a zone-style scheme, as The Draft Network’s Dan Marino pointed out:
"Effective worker in space where he illustrates good control, timing and consistency to connect with moving targets. Success in the run game comes as a positional blocker, taking advantage of angles and leverage points in zone concepts. Generally executes with a sound understanding of his responsibility and its relationship with the play design – smart football player. Overall he plays with good posture and bend, usually under control."
While Marino also pointed out Adeniji’s footwork is problematic, the technical aspect is something good coaching and development might be able to hash out in the coming seasons.
San Francisco doesn’t have a ton of proven depth within the interior. Backup center Ben Garland is a pending free agent, while 2019 undrafted free-agent guard Ross Reynolds spent all of last year on the practice squad.
The only question now is where the 49ers would put a player like Adeniji on their draft board. Some teams may view his blocking abilities on good angles with a lot of value, potentially moving him up as early as Round 3.
Yet a more feasible target area, at least for the Niners, would be in Rounds 5 or 6. This is probably where Adeniji winds up being selected.
If so, San Francisco can hope a player like Adeniji winds up providing the much-needed depth the team has along its offensive front entering this upcoming season and beyond.