Pittsburgh Steelers fans were treated to a familiar site during the first preseason game — No. 92 roaring off the edge and disrupting another NFL team’s offense. This was not James Harrison playing in the second half but instead, it was Olasunkanmi Adeniyi (Pronounced “OH-la-suhn-KAHN-mee | ah-DAY-nee”).
Adeniyi declared early for the NFL draft in 2018. The former red-shirt junior has been viewed as a project that can latch onto Pittsburgh’s 53 man roster due to the questionable depth at the outside linebacker position. The former Toledo Rocket will not make Steeler fans forget Harrison anytime soon, but he did not embarrass himself in his first professional outing. Adeniyi racked up two tackles, a strip sack and subsequent forced fumble.
There is a caveat to his performance. The left tackle Adeniyi was facing was taking part in his first NFL game. This is not unusual during the first game of the preseason, but what is unusual is that the 6-feet 8-inch 346-pound behemoth across the line was playing in his first ever American football game. Jordan Mailata experience as a rugby player with the South Sydney Rabbitohs earned himself a seventh-round selection by the Philadelphia Eagles.
Steeler fans came away impressed by what they saw from Adeniyi, but should the production have had an asterisk, or been more productive against a player who has struggled in training camp and never played American football?
(Please bear with me with the video editing — it is a work in progress and I am still learning my program.)
Three clips that show Adeniyi’s potential and ability to make the 53-man roster.
Clip 1: While Adeniyi does not get a clean hit on the quarterback he had the presence to swat the ball out of the QBs hand and was rewarded with the turnover. His bend around the quarterback is not ideal but knocking the ball out is.
Clip 2: The second clip shows Adeniyi’s ability to set the edge and force the run inside.
Clip 3: Adeniyi’s power and technique almost allow him to split the double team. This causes the quarterback to get happy feet and hit his safety valve.
Three clips that could keep Adeniyi off the 53-man roster.
Clip 1: Adeniyi is disruptive during the play, but he should have been able to shed the tight end who he was engaged with. The tight end is Joshua Perkins who weighs in at 225 and is not known for his blocking ability while being in Philadelphia’s camp as a camp body.
Clip 2: During the third clip, fans were on the edge of their seats as Adeniya came in untouched and was poised to bring Wendell Smallwood down with a massive loss. This was not the case as the 208 pound Smallwood used a lethal stiff arm to stymie the 248-pound Adeniyi. The stiff arm did not seem to be that good and would cause Adeniyi to lose his balance and go sprawling to the turf.
Clip 3: Penalties draw the ire of coaches no matter of the score and turning a fourth and seven into fourth and two is unacceptable.
The last clip was tough to categorize. Adeniyi starts off showing his technique and power by tossing Mailata aside and starts his pursuit of the quarterback. Just like one of the clips above Adeniyi whiffs on him due to the lack of lateral movement.
The level of productivity compared to the level of competition is a tad concerning but not overwhelming. Adeniyi is far from a polished product and should not be viewed as one. He is raw, but talented, and is still learning the finer points of the NFL. While the Green Bay Packers have not released their inactives for the Thursday night tilt, Steeler fans hope that Adeniyi will face Kyle Murphy who had starts at left tackle last season. Going up against him will be a better test for Adeniyi than their third-string left tackle, Adam Pankey. Pankey spent the 2017 season holding down a spot on the Packers practice squad.
Will Adeniyi shine against the Packers? Or will he wilt against stiffer competition? What are his odds of making the 2018 53-man roster?