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Meet new Browns offensive tackle: Hakeem Adeniji

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By: Barry Shuck

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Backup offensive tackle was a huge need this off-season

The Cleveland Browns had the worst luck last year with the health of the offensive line.

On the final cutdown instead of retaining the norm of 10 players, the franchise kept only nine from this group: C Ethan Pocic, C/OG Nick Harris, C/OG Luke Wypler, LG Joel Bitonio, RG Wyatt Teller, LT Jed Wills, LT Dawand Jones, RT Jack Conklin, and RT James Hudson.

Offensive linemen who were cut included OG Michael Dunn, OG Wes Martin, OT Derrick Henry, and OG Colby Gossett.

Tyrone Wheatley, Jr. was traded to the New England Patriots while OG Drew Forbes was placed on the reserve/non-football illness list. Later, Dunn and tackles Alex Leatherwood, Justin Murray, and Ty Nsekhe were added to the practice squad.

On opening day against the Cincinnati Bengals, Conklin played 22 snaps and went down with a torn ACL and MCL. This injury required surgery and Conklin was placed on IR.

Throughout the season, the wheels completely came off with this group.

Jones was placed at right tackle. Then Dunn went down with a calf injury in mid-October. Wills suffered an MCL injury in Week 9 and eventually landed on IR. Jones then was moved to LT as Hudson became the starter at RT. Dunn returned and OT’s Geron Christian and Leroy Watson were signed off of other club’s practice squads. Then Jones went down with his own knee injury.

Suddenly, Christian and Hudson were the starting tackles with Watson the only backup. That meant two practice squad players and a career backup were manning both tackle spots which had just 23 NFL starts between the trio.

Going into this off-season, GM Andrew Berry decided that an experienced swing tackle was needed.

On the second day of free agency, Berry solved this issue when he signed OT Hakeem Adeniji (pronounced uh-DENN-ih-gee) to a one-year deal.


Raised in the football-rich State of Texas, Adeniji went to Garland High School in Garland, Texas. He was already 6’-4” tall and weighed 245 pounds, benched 315 pounds, clean-jerk of 365 pounds, and his squat was 405 pounds. He played offensive guard and tackle plus defensive end for the football squad.

He also played basketball and participated in track where he threw the shot put and discus. His distance of 51’, 8.5 inches remains the third longest in the district in the 12 lb. shot put. He holds the state record for the longest discus throw of 160’, 3 inches which is almost eight feet further than the second place holder.

As a senior, Adeniji was named captain and selected All-Area 100 by the Dallas Morning News plus elected All-District his final two years.

Adeniji’s brother Moshood already played offensive line at Air Force. Adeniji was also accepted to the Air Force Academy where he was going to play alongside his sibling.

But there was a problem even though everything seemed to be going well. He received a letter that his medical waiver was being denied because he had a cashew allergy. This meant the ability to play football at the Academy was no longer a reality.

Something wonderful then happened. His high school coach Jeff Jordan suddenly got hired at the University of Kansas. One week later, Adeniji was enrolled at Kansas to play football.

This was his explanation of the cashew allergy:

“It’s hard to remember my first reaction, but I’ve had my fair share, maybe five or six or seven (times). It’s funny now, I can almost sense cashews. It’s weird. I can taste them in food pretty quickly. I can’t remember the first time (I reacted), but I thought (I was allergic) to more than just cashews, but we ended up getting it tested, and it was just cashews and pistachios. They (the two types of nuts) are related.”

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 07 Coastal Carolina at Kansas
Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

He ended up at Kansas and started 12 games as a freshman switching from left to right tackle. He was named All-Big 12 Honorable Mention. The following year he started all 12 games with 11 at left tackle and one at right tackle. As a junior, Adeniji started all 12 games at left tackle.

He explained to about whether he was comfortable at guard, or either the right or left tackle positions:

“I’m more comfortable at tackle, but I can do either. I’m more comfortable at left because I played it so much. But the guy I’m training with is working on both sides. Right tackle is never going to be the same as left, but I can still do it pretty close to the same high level.”

For his career, he had 48 starts at both tackle positions during his four years. He was named Second Team All-Big 12 as a junior and First Team All-Big 12 as a senior. He received an invite to the Senior Bowl where he learned to play guard. At the Combine where he ran a 5.17 in the 40 with a 34” vertical jump.

Finally, an NFL call

Starting 48 consecutive games for a Power 5 conference team had little effect come draft day. Adeniji was drafted in the sixth round by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2020 NFL draft.

NFL: JAN 02 Bills at Bengals
Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Usually sixth rounders don’t play much in their rookie season, but Adeniji (6’-4”, 315 pounds) had five starts and played in 15 games all at left tackle. He had signed a three-year contract for $3.295 million.

During the off-season, during a workout, he tore his pectoral muscle which required surgery in June. He was placed on the reserve/non-football injury list but was activated in November. His first game back was in the Week 9 loss to the Browns 41-16. He ended up playing in 10 games at right guard including the franchise’s first playoff victory in 31 years. The Bengals won the AFC Championship Game but lost in Super Bowl LVI 23-20 to the Los Angeles Rams.

In 2022 he was the team’s designated swing tackle and played in jumbo packages. He had one start at tackle and played in 15 games as the Bengals lost the AFC Championship Game. In the 2023 training camp, Adeniji was released on the final cutdown.

Minnesota Vikings v Cincinnati Bengals
Photo by Jeff Dean/Getty Images

Two days later, the Minnesota Vikings claimed him and placed him on the practice squad. Before the Week 5 home game against the Kansas City Chiefs, he was brought up to the active roster. He played under a one-year deal worth $1.01 million.

The Vikings did not re-sign him and allowed him to test the free agency waters.


Now, he is a Cleveland Brown. As the franchise limped into the playoffs last year with only three offensive tackles on the active roster, the problem with injuries with this group last season displayed how important depth is especially late in the season.

Like all those years that the coaching staff had the experience and versatility of Chris Hubbard, Adeniji is the next piece-of-mind athlete to help this offense when they need it the most.

The signing of Adeniji in all likelihood eliminates the need to draft a young OT prospect in this year’s draft which can now be used to bring in another position of need instead.

And he will come relatively cheap. This means he will play for peanuts, just not cashews.

Originally posted on Dawgs By Nature – All Posts