With the NFL Draft Combine set to begin next week, Chicago Bears fans will have their eyes set on a plethora of prospects, but there’s one who played college football right down the road who should warrant their attention.

His name is Adetomiwa Adebawore (pronounced Ad-eh-tom-yiwa Ad-eh-BAR-ay), a defensive end for Northwestern University.


Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Adebawore was a three star prospect out of North Kansas City High School where he starred for head coach Leon Douglas along NKCHS’s defensive line, earning Kansas class 5 All-State honors, on top of being voted All-Suburban White League Defensive Player of the Year his senior season.

While Adebawore has a trove of accomplishments from his high school playing days, one of the most interesting tidbits comes from his family lineage.

He’s a prince.

“I don’t know the full details, I just know that I’m a prince, [my dad] is a prince, and my grandpa is a King,” Adebawore said with a smile during a Zoom interview last week. “And we all come from this village in Nigeria … It’s one of those stories my dad would tell me and it just stuck with me.”

Adebawore credits his dad — and his mom — for helping mold him into the man he’s become today. Growing up, he said his mom was always supportive and did her best to provide for their family, while his dad was always there to offer advice and encourage him to be independent and think for himself.

“My mom always worked extremely hard to make sure that me and my three little brothers were taken care of,” Adebawore said. “Then my dad, he always gives me the best advice. I kind of look towards him when I’m trying to figure out different things, or questioning things. He’s always done a good job of helping me make the right decision for myself.”

In Adebawore’s eyes, the way his mom and dad worked in tandem allowed him to flourish in high school and while he was at Northwestern, and provided a good foundation for him as he continues his journey toward becoming a professional football player in the NFL.

Rising Draft Stock

Adebawore is fresh off an impressive performance at the Reese’s Senior Bowl where he wowed scouts with his motor and pass rushing abilities in 1-on-1 drills, as well as in full speed team practice reps.

National defensive lineman Adetomiwa Adebawore of Northwestern (99) run drills during practice for the Senior Bowl NCAA college football game Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, in Mobile, Ala.. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

“I wanted to show teams I’m very athletic, intelligent and versatile,” Adebawore said. “I wanted to show that I could be relentless, you know, running to the ball, and I feel like I did all of those things.”

The former Wildcat was voted best defensive lineman at the Senior Bowl and will only continue to build on his rising stock in Indianapolis, where the NFL Draft Combine begins Tuesday.

Heading into combine workouts, Adebawore’s draft stock varies based on the outlet being looked at.

The NFL’s website — nfl.com — grades Adebawore as the 24th-best defensive end in this year’s draft class, saying he has the traits to be a quality backup with potential to develop into a starter.

Other outlets — like Pro Football Focus and Pro Football Network — are much higher on Adebawore thus far. He ranks as PFF’s 45th-best prospect overall on their NFL Draft Big Board, and Pro Football Network grades Adebawore as an early day two pick, with the possibility to be a surprise day one selection if he lights up the combine as much as he did the Senior Bowl.

Fit with the Bears

Chicago’s defensive woes from a year ago are well documented, and perhaps the Bears’ most pressing need is to address their ability to rush the passer.

After finishing dead last in the NFL in total sacks on the 2022-23 regular season, Chicago needs multiple pieces added to the defensive line, and there are few prospects who offer the positional versatility and upside that Adebawore offers, especially in a Matt Eberflus-style defense.

When it comes to Eberflus’s system, he runs a 4-3 defense that doesn’t particularly emphasize blitzing, but instead relies on his four down lineman creating havoc up front.

Enter Adebawore.

EVANSTON, ILLINOIS – NOVEMBER 07: Adetomiwa Adebawore #49 of the Northwestern Wildcats rushes against Bryce Benhart #54 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Ryan Field on November 07, 2020 in Evanston, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

While he comes in a bit undersized in terms of height and weight (6’2″, 284 pounds), Adebawore more than makes up for it with his high motor, brute strength and positional versatility.

During his senior season at Northwestern, then-Northwestern defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil moved Adebawore all along the Wildcats’ defensive line, lining him up on both ends in a four or five technique, or inside in a three technique, depending on what was needed in the moment.

The ability to play different techniques and angles along the defensive line highlighted Adebawore’s strengths at different points throughout the 2023 college football season — an explosive first step, and long, strong arms that help him create space to get off blocks and blow up run plays, or rush opposing quarterbacks.

“If a team needs a defensive end, I can go out there and play defensive end. If a team needs me to be an outside linebacker, I can do that too,” Adebawore said. “If a team needs me inside, I can do that too because I’ve felt comfortable in all three of those spots. I’ve been doing all that the last four years.”

Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa is sacked by Northwestern defensive line Adetomiwa Adebawore during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Evanston, Ill., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Adebawore finished the 2022 college football season with 38 tackles, 5 sacks and 9.0 tackles-for-loss, which included 31 QB pressures and 27 run stops, good for third among all Big Ten edge rushers, according to Pro Football Focus.

The NFL Draft Combine kicks off Tuesday, Feb. 28, with defensive linemen and linebackers going through tests and drills on Thursday, Mar. 2. The first round of the NFL Draft will begin on Thursday, April 28 at 8 p.m. EST in Las Vegas, with rounds 2-3 happening Friday, and rounds 4-7 happening on Saturday.

The Chicago Bears have 8 picks in the NFL Draft this year — no. 1, 53 (2nd), 64 (3rd), 103(4th), 133 (4th), 137 (5th), 159 (5th), 220 (7th).