Kansas offensive lineman Hakeem Adeniji hoping to put the Jayhawks back in the NFL draft

Kansas offensive lineman Hakeem Adeniji waits to do the bench press at the NFL football scouting combine Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, in Indianapolis.

Kansas offensive lineman Hakeem Adeniji waits to do the bench press at the NFL football scouting combine Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, in Indianapolis.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Kansas offensive lineman Hakeem Adeniji is looking to put the Jayhawks back in the NFL draft this week after KU's absence from the draft last year.

If successful, he’ll become just the second Jayhawk to be drafted since 2016. Two years ago, former KU defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr. was selected by Dallas in the fourth round of the 2018 draft, ending a then-two-year drought of Jayhawk draft picks.

Round 1 of the NFL draft is slated to begin at 7 p.m. Thursday night. Rounds 2 and 3 will follow on Friday, beginning at 6 p.m., and the final four rounds will take place on Saturday, beginning at 11 a.m. All 32 NFL teams will conduct their business from remote draft rooms in the virtual event, which ESPN and NFL Network have teamed up to broadcast.

Adeniji is the Jayhawk most likely to be selected in the coming days. He's projected to go anywhere between the third and seventh rounds in this year’s draft.

After breaking onto the college football scene at Kansas as a true freshman, the 6-foot-4, 302-pound Adeniji became a mainstay on KU’s offensive line, starting every game during his four seasons in Lawrence. That 48-game streak was among the longest active streaks in college football and one of the longest in Kansas history.

Adeniji’s durability, long arms, quick hands, strength and maturity have many analysts expecting him to be drafted sometime during the next three days.

A mock draft by Chad Reuter, draft analyst for NFL.com, has Adeniji slotted the highest of all the mock drafts out there, placing him near the end of the third round with pick No. 97 overall to the Cleveland Browns.

CBSsports.com’s R.J. White has Adeniji projected as a fourth-round pick (No. 127 overall) of the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Athletic’s Dane Brugler called Adeniji “a smooth operator” and listed him at No. 133 on his board of the top 300 players eligible for the draft.

“Overall, Adeniji doesn’t have the power to overwhelm NFL-level defenders,” Brugler wrote. “But as long as his technique stays consistent, he has enough athleticism to get the job done, projecting as a swing tackle with the versatility to handle interior snaps.”

At the Senior Bowl following the 2019 season, Adeniji showcased his skills at tackle, guard and even center.

If Adeniji cracks the second day, it would make him the highest-drafted Jayhawk since Aqib Talib went in the first round in 2008. Since then, Kansas has had 11 other players drafted — four in the fourth round (including Armstrong), three in the fifth, three in the sixth and one in the seventh.

Adeniji backed up a strong showing at the NFL combine in February by performing well at KU’s on-campus pro day, impressing scouts with his agility (34-inch vertical jump and 115-inch broad jump), strength (26 reps in the bench press) and size.

According to the NFL.com evaluation of Adeniji, he received a 5.96 grade, which places him in the “developmental traits-based prospect” category (6.0) and just below the “good backup who could become a starter” range (6.1-6.2).

Regardless of where he winds up — what round, what city and even what position — Adeniji recently told USA Today’s Draft Wire that he was willing to do whatever would earn him a job.

“Some NFL teams have told me that they like me on the left, but they think that right tackle is also a possibility for me,” Adeniji told Draft Wire. “I’ve even heard a little about me moving inside to play guard. I played some guard at the Senior Bowl. I know that I’d be a great left tackle, but it’s not really up to me. I’m (going to) play wherever they put me.”

Other Jayhawks hoping to hear their names called or catch on with teams after the draft include defensive end Azur Kamara, who also competed at the NFL combine; safety and Free State High School alumnus Bryce Torneden, who according to NFL Draft Diamonds recently had contact with the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers; and wide receiver Daylon Charlot, who came to KU from Alabama and enjoyed his best college season in Kansas’ first year under Les Miles.

Several other Jayhawks, including Hasan Defense, Mike Lee and Codey Cole III, could receive invitations to NFL minicamps in the hours and days after the conclusion of the NFL draft.