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Rookie Breakdown: A Look Back at Khalid Kareem, Hakeem Adeniji and Markus Bailey's First Season

Here's a look at the Bengals' late round rookies

We've took an in depth look at the Joe Burrow, Tee Higgins, Logan Wilson and Akeem Davis-Gaithers' rookie seasons. 

It's time to breakdown the three other players Cincinnati took in the 2020 NFL Draft. 

Khalid Kareem

Going into the fifth round of the 2020 draft, the Bengals seemed to be knocking it out of the park, however, they still had yet to pick up an offensive lineman, which was arguably their biggest need at the time.

When the Bengals selected defensive end Khalid Kareem, many were left confused as to why they wouldn’t address the line on the other side of the ball. After the smoke cleared, many fans came to realize Kareem was a pretty solid pick. He had good production during his time at Notre Dame, and was projected by some to go a lot earlier in the draft.

Kareem played in all 16 games as a rookie. His snap percentage defensively was more than most would expect for the fifth-round pick. He finished with 19 combined tackles along with a sack and a tackle for loss. All together, his stats won’t impress many, but he was a solid role player on Cincinnati's defense.

During a year where the Bengals dealt with plenty injuries on the defensive side of the ball, Kareem was a solid role player coming off the edge. With the Cincinnati pass rush being one of the worst in the league in 2020, there will likely be some changes to the defensive line this offseason. 

Kareem will be a nice piece for the Bengals as they try to figure out their pass rush. He probably won't develop into a star, but he does have the potential to be a dependable rotation player moving forward.

Hakeem Adeniji

After going five rounds without addressing the offensive line, which was arguably the Bengals' biggest need, they finally selected tackle Hakeem Adeniji out of Kansas.

As a sixth round pick, Adeniji played more than expected, starting five games and appearing in fifteen total contests. For a late round rookie, he looked better than many thought he would. 

It’s clear he isn’t ready to become a full-time starter, but he’s a valuable piece to have. He’s young, versatile, and capable of stepping in on short notice.

On some occasions during his first year in the league he looked a little out of place, but that's expected from a sixth-round pick.

On other occasions, Adeniji showed some impressive play. Most notably in Week 10 against Pittsburgh, where he was one of the bright spots on the Bengals' offensive line. 

Adeniji has potential to grow into a bigger role, but projects to be a solid backup in 2021. Members of the Bengals staff said they had a second-round grade on Adeniji, so they're probably hoping he can develop into more than a swing tackle.

Markus Bailey

Bailey was widely considered one of the best late round steals in the 2020 NFL Draft.

During his time in college at Purdue, Bailey suffered two ACL tears. If not for those injuries, the linebacker likely would have likely been a day two pick in the draft.

Bailey only appeared in six games as a rookie. There's a chance his role could increase next season, but Wilson and Davis-Gaither will be ahead of him on the depth chart. 

Bailey has the potential to be a solid role player for the Bengals' defense, and likely will be a big part of their special teams unit in 2021.


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