Giants get edge rusher some thought was best in the draft class after trade down
The Giants started Round 2 with the 42nd overall pick. They traded back with the Miami Dolphins, getting the 50th pick overall and a third-round pick in 2022. The Giants now own 10 picks in next year’s draft.
That’s two trades down for GM Dave Gettleman in two days after he had never done that in eight previous drafts as GM of the Giants or Carolina Panthers.
The Dolphins, in case you are wondering, took Notre Dame offensive lineman Liam Eichenberg with the pick acquired from the Giants.
If the Giants were targeting an edge rusher, they could have taken Ojulari at 42 and he would have been considered value. To get him at No. 50 and add a third-round pick in next year’s draft is a win for the Giants.
Draft analyst Dane Brugler of The Athletic had Ojulari ranked as his No. 1 edge rusher. Some thought the Giants would take him at No. 11. Ojulari, though, fell out of the first round after reports of a degenerative leg condition following a torn ACL he suffered in high school.
In his draft guide, Brugler wrote:
A two-year starter at Georgia, Ojulari lined up as the JACK linebacker in head coach Kirby Smart’s 3-3-5 base scheme, standing up and rushing with his hand on the ground. After a promising redshirt freshman campaign, he was one of the best pass rushers in the SEC in 2020, leading the conference in sacks, tackles for loss and forced fumbles. Ojulari senses how blockers want to attack him and is very skilled at using his burst/bend to attack their outside shoulder, greasing the corner and detaching from blocks with his violent hands. While he lacks elite size for the position, that shouldn’t limit his NFL ceiling if he continues to diversify his approach and develop his counters. Overall, Ojulari is an instinctive and explosive athlete with the dip-and-rip cornering skills and scheme versatility to become an impact NFL pass rusher. He projects as a younger version of Yannick Ngakoue.
In his Ojulari prospect profile, BBV’s Chris Pflum wrote:
“University of Georgia EDGE Azeez Ojulari has the athleticism, frame, and versatility to be a contributor in a variety of roles at the NFL level. He has a good blend of size, speed, and agility, and is able to play both defensive end and outside linebacker, as well as a hybrid between the two. Ojulari lined up as an EDGE in Georgia’s multiple front defense, playing on both the left and right side, as well as from a two- and three-point stance. …
“Ojulari has the foundation of a good pass rush arsenal, but it still needs to be developed. He can occasionally forget to bring his hands with him on rushes, instead trying to win by using his shoulder. Ojulari can struggle to shed blocks or disengage from linemen when they are able to lock in and establish their blocks. He can also be inconsistent with his use of leverage, at times popping up at the snap. In those cases he can be blown off the ball by opposing blockers.”
Why Ojulari fits the Giants
The only established pass rusher on the Giants’ defense is Leonard Williams, and no one is certain he can be counted on to equal his career-best 11.5-sack production from 2020.
Ojulari is a versatile player who can not only rush the passer, but can drop in coverage in short areas and has the foundation of becoming a quality run defender. He is also comfortable standing up or playing with his hand in the ground.
Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning recently told Big Blue View that Ojulari was a “great fit” for the defense run by Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham.
“We have a great respect and admiration for Pat and the system he runs, but I think he also respects what we do here at Georgia and how we play on defense and understands that our guys will come in with a little bit of an understanding of what they’re doing [in New York] already,” Lanning said. ‘When you take a guy from our program there’s going to be a lot of mutual carryover from both of our systems. It would be great if he ends up there.”
Lanning also said this:
“I’ll say this. I don’t know who’s a better edge player than Azeez Ojulari in this draft. I spend all of my time looking at our players. Is he as good an edge player as I’ve ever seen? Yeah. He’s really talented,” Lanning said.
“I just think he’s a can’t miss, from the standpoint of I know how hard he’s gonna work wherever he goes when he gets there to earn his keep. What a pleasure he’ll be for whatever coaching staff he goes to.”
Ojulari and Giants left tackle Andrew Thomas were college roomates at Georgia.
Andrew Thomas is with Azeez Ojulari when he got picked by NYG pic.twitter.com/G274jd2WfA
— Carly (@carlymersky) May 1, 2021
Giants round-by-round draft selections
Round 1 (No. 20) — Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
Round 2 (No. 50) — Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
Round 3 (No. 76) —
Round 4 (No. 116) —
Round 6 (No. 196) —
Round 6 (No. 201) —
How to watch the rest of the draft
- Fri, April 30 (7-11:30 p.m.): NFL Draft, Rounds 2 and 3 – ABC, ESPN, NFL Network, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio
- Sat, May 1 (12-7 p.m.): NFL Draft, Rounds 4–7 – ABC, ESPN, NFL Network, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio
TV: ABC, ESPN, and NFL Network
Streaming: NFL app, ESPN app
Radio: SiriusXM, Westwood One, and ESPN Radio| Tune-In Premium