For the first time since the 2012 NFL Draft, it feels like there isn’t an edge rusher that is a virtual top 10 lock. The debate for who the number one edge rusher in the 2021 NFL Draft is even up in the air. There is definitely someone who is not getting the recognition he deserves and that person is Azeez Ojulari. Ojulari has been putting on a show in Athens and it’s about time we put some respect on his name. Ojulari is a speed rusher who’s best fit is as a 3-4 OLB in the NFL. His floor is high and his ceiling is higher, and he doesn’t leave too much to be desired on tape. It’s time to put him under the microscope and see if he is worth a top ten pick.
Position: 3-4 OLB
Weight: 240 lbs
2019 Stats: 12 games played/16 SOLO/36 TOTAL/6 TFL/5.5 Sacks
2020 Stats: 10 games played/22 SOLO/31 TOTAL/11.5 TFL/8.5 Sacks
1.Ojulari is one of the most explosive edge rushers you’ll ever see in college. He has some crazy pop off the line of scrimmage and once he’s up, he uses his speed to blow past any and all tackles he faces. Whether he plans to speed rush the outside shoulder, or engage with a tackle, his burst out off the line sets him up for success. Ojulari can play from a two point stance or with his hand in the dirt and demonstrates text book get off from both positions.
2.It is very rare to see pass rushers with as high of football IQ as Ojulari. He demonstrates on a regular basis his ability to read plays, predict tackle movements, and snuff out line shifts. Nine times out of ten he will predict the open gap and explode through the lane on stunts before the guards even have a chance to move. His high IQ is a perfect match for his elite athleticism and will be his greatest asset at the next level.
3.Possibly the best part about Ojulari is his relentless effort and motor. Through all 24 of his college games there is not a single snap where you see Ojulari give up. His rush isn’t over until the ball is out of the QB’s hands, his pursuit is never over until the ball carrier is down, you just never see him give up on a play. He has unique agility that allows him to consistently play at 100% the whole game. Ojulari is pedal to the metal at all times.
1.Azeez always shows a willingness to use pass rush moves but could definitely use some refining as far as technique goes. Sometimes he is just too sloppy with his hand counters and swipes and will end up reverting back to his trusty speed rush. With proper coaching at the next level his technique can be refined and in turn his pass rush arsenal will grow, nonetheless, something that needs some improvent.
2.Ojulari plays a position where he is regularly up against tackles that are a good 5 inches taller and 70 pounds heavier than him. In order to compete with the size of NFL lineman he will have to bulk up a little more. If Ojulari can add some more muscle and hover around the 250-255 lbs range then he’ll be able to set the edge and better compete with the strength of NFL tackles. A problem can be fixed with a couple protein shakes but a problem nonetheless.
Azeez Ojulari is a unicorn at the edge rusher position due to his field tilting athleticism and explosiveness. He is a relentless QB seeking missile who can become one of the best pass rushers in the NFL with proper coaching. He is an SEC battle tested rusher with high IQ and off the charts speed that is loaded with 10+ sack potential. Is he the best edge rusher in the class? No, not with Jaelan Phillips in this class. But is he worth a top ten pick? Yes, Ojulari could become one of the best pass rushers of this generation if a team can properly polish his game.
Draft Projection: Early First Round
Pro Comparison: Josh Allen