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NFL scout: Versatility key for interior linemen in 2020 NFL draft

What Kansas offensive lineman Hakeem Adeniji is doing at Senior Bowl practices isn’t as easy as it sounds. The longtime Kansas left tackle has shifted over to guard, where many draft evaluators think his future lies at the next level.

The reason for the move? At 6-foot-4, 302 pounds, some teams want more length at the tackle position. But none of this should come as a surprise for Adeniji, as he was listed at guard in NFL teams’ preseason watch list, and the letter he received from Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy told him to “be ready to move inside during practice week if the participating coaching staff asks you to.

Thus far, Adeniji is doing well at Senior Bowl practices, as reported by Fanspeak co-owner Steve Shoup.

And that’s exactly what teams are looking for out of interior linemen: an ability to wear many hats.

“The key with interior offensive lineman is position versatility,” said Chris Landry of LandryFootball.com. Landry is a veteran NFL scout who has served with the Cleveland Browns, the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans, and he is the former director of the Indianapolis Scouting Combine.

“If you are not an elite left tackle, you must be able to play multiple positions, and it’s not that easy to move from left guard to right guard or vice versa as most think.”


2020 Senior Bowl Preview Previews:

QBs and Skill Guys
Offensive Linemen 
Defensive Front 7 

The 2020 interior offensive line class has taken some hits by various draft analysts who say it’s a relatively week class. However, as a Fanspeak Analysis points out, teams that pay more attention to drafting guards and centers generally have more success making the playoffs than teams that don’t.

And now teams finally get a chance to see how some of these guards and centers – and converted tackles — fare once faced against next-level competition during Senior Bowl week.

Guards and centers at the Senior Bowl include: Michigan’s Ben Bredeson, Washington’s Nick Harris, Temple’s Matt Hennessy, Ohio State’s Jonah Jackson, St. John’s Ben Bartch, LSU’s Lloyd Cushenberry, San Diego State’s Keith Ismael, LSU’s Damien Lewis, Clemson’s John Simpson, and Kentucky’s Logan Stenberg. And that doesn’t include players like Adeniji who are moving from tackle to guard, at least for team evaluators.

Of that group, Cushenberry is likely the highest-rated and first interior lineman to be drafted, although scouts are also high on some of the underclassmen in the 2020 NFL draft, including Wisconsin’s Tyler Biadasz and Michigan’s Cesar Ruiz.

The bottom line? This might not be as weak of an IOL class as originally thought.

“I think this class has some guys with the size and feet that I look for as a scout,” said Landry, who currently serves as a scouting and coaching consultant to NFL teams and college programs. “Guys like Harris, Ruiz and Bredeson, (Fresno State’s Netane) Muti, Cushenberry and Biadasz, among others, have a chance.”

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