After being named Third-Team All-Big Ten as a senior in 2022, Adetomiwa Adebawore was a sure thing to hear his name called during the NFL Draft in Kansas City. Although he was projected to get selected sometime on Day Two, Adebawore was still on the board for the Indianapolis Colts at pick 110 in the fourth round. Chris Ballard ended Adebawore’s slide and Northwestern’s defensive lineman is headed to the AFC South.
What Adebawore Brings to the Table
An edge in college, Adebawore is most likely to see the most snaps as a three-technique defensive tackle in the pros. He is listed a 6-foot-2, 280 pounds with a crazy 81 and five-eighths-inch wingspan that gives him fantastic leverage at the point of attack. At the NFL Combine in Lucas Oil Stadium, the same venue where Adebawore will chase after quarterbacks in the NFL, the senior tested phenomenally. Adebawore’s 4.49 40-yard dash is unheard of for a player of his size, and his numbers in the vertical jump, broad jump and 3-cone are all elite for a defensive lineman.
During his senior year in Evanston, Adebawore recorded a team-high five sacks and set personal bests in tackles and tackles for loss. He showed off his otherworldly athleticism and versatility, lining up across the defensive front. Adebawore has a high motor and never quits on the play, using his active hands to disrupt offensive lineman and push the pocket until the whistle is blown. He has a quick first step off the snap and showed flashes of pass-rushing juice.
At the next level, Adebawore will have to work on becoming a more consistent player in several parts of his game. He could benefit from a more clear pass rush plan and a more developed artillery of moves, rather than relying on his quick get-off and overpowering athleticism. He also has to shore up missed tackles, which were seen a little too frequently on his Northwestern tape. However, Adebawore does offer upside in both the pass and run game.
Off the field, Adebawore was voted a team captain for his senior season. He is a tough player who did not miss a game over the past three seasons, even fighting through minor injuries to stay on the field. According to Dane Brugler’s draft guide, Northwestern director of football performance Jay Hooten credits Adebawore for his role in “rebuilding the culture of the team” and applauds his motivation.
Where Adebawore Fits on the Colts
Adebawore is a classic Chris Ballard pick. Over recent years, the Colts have continuously drafted long, athletic players with high-upside, and Adebawore fits the bill. Here are the relative athletic scores (out of 10) for each of the Colts draft picks in 2023:
For Indianapolis, Adebawore will slide in behind both DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart, who make up one of the best defensive tackle tandems in the league. Adebawore will have a chance to earn rotational snaps in his rookie year but will be competing against former first-round pick Taven Bryan, who the Colts signed this offseason, for that chance.
At first, Adebawore is the backup to Buckner at three-technique and might get some play time in sub packages, but he may have to contribute on special teams. It’s easy to see why defensive coordinator Gus Bradley likes Adebawore for the future; he fits in well in Bradley’s 4-3 front that often demands mobility from the interior players with the space to stunt and build momentum as the ends frequently line up in a Wide-9 alignment. It’s an aggressive, attacking front that looks to live in the backfield.
Ballard confirmed that Adebawore will mostly play on the inside, but the Colts staff praised Adebawore’s versatility as a primary reason for why he is such an attractive player. In post-draft media, Colts scout Tyler Hughes mentioned Melvin Ingram on the outside, and Geno Atkins on the inside, as player comparisons they saw with Adebawore.
Buckner is under contract through the 2024 season, but the Colts could save over $20 million without incurring a massive cap penalty by releasing the two-time All-Pro after the upcoming season. Stewart will be an unrestricted free agent next offseason. If he develops, Adebawore could be expected to grow into a big role sooner rather than later.