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Purple Prospect Portfolio: Azeez Ojulari

Ojulari is a speed rushing threat with great get off

NCAA Football: Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl-Georgia vs Cincinnati Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Azeez Ojulari hails from Marietta, Georgia and was a 247sports.com four-star prospect. He ranked as the No. 10 weakside DE nationally, No. 144 overall prospect and No. 18 prospect in Georgia before staying home to play football for the University of Georgia Bulldogs.

Ojulari saw limited action as a true freshman and was redshirted before emerging as a redshirt freshman. In 2019, Azeez finished with a team high in sacks (5.5) and pressures (34). He was named co-most improved player as well as earning the Bulldog’s Leon Farmer Strength & Conditioning Award, unsurprisingly.

Following his breakout 2019, 2020 saw an even more impressive campaign. Ojulari recorded three multi-sack games, finished with 9.5 total on the year and lead Georgia in total pressures (35) for the second straight year. He finished his college career with a three-sack performance in the Peach Bowl against Cincinnati.

Games watched: 2018 Baylor, 2019 Tennessee, 2019 LSU, 2020 Alabama, 2020 Auburn, 2020 Tennessee, 2020 Florida, 2021 Cincinnati.

Pass game:

Ojulari is a speed rusher through and through. Capable of testing tackles ability to gain depth in their sets, he has outstanding get off. Using swipes, chops and rips, his hands free him up to get an angle and flatten to the quarterback. The former Bulldog closes rapidly when given a lane. Despite his prolific weight room accomplishments, Ojulari lacks power in his hands and rarely attempts to bull rush. He often gets good placement with long arm stabs, but rarely attempts to drive blockers with it. If he doesn’t initially win, he waits too long to counter, but does eventually. On stunts, he’s capable of crashing enough to allow interior players to loop. When he loops inside, he closes with urgency. His awareness of screens is spotty, he often sees them a hair too late. When his rushes fail, Ojulari has quick reactions to get his hands up and bat passes. He closes on quarterbacks faster than expected, and when he does, he inflicts pain.

Georgia asked Azeez to bluff and spot drop off the edge a fair amount, as well as shadow backs after they chip. He completely derailed slot receivers at times, jamming them by surprise when he bluffed quite often. Ojulari didn’t show particular quickness or speed in coverage, but seemed decisive in his responsibilities.

Run game:

While not an impact run defender, he’s more sturdy than his frame suggests. He will beat up tight ends, driving them back into ball carriers. Despite being slight, he doesn’t give up ground to tackles often. The Marietta native presented strong gap scheme recognition against Alabama in 2020. If he reads power, he will meet pullers with a shoulder and make himself the lower man, but fails to activate his hands or use his quickness to slip blocks consistently enough to make him a dominant run defender. His hand placement to stack blockers isn’t aggressive enough some games, then others he can be a wrecking ball, which was displayed against Auburn in 2020. His pursuit is somewhat disappointing given the burst he showcases rushing the passer, as well as the fact that he never played more than 52 snaps in a game, keeping him fresh. Has rarely shown open field dynamism in backside pursuit, either. Handling speed options well, he took strong angles with shuffle technique to force conservative decisions. If Azeez gets a ball carrier in a phone booth, he will put them on their backside. He’s a piece of metal when he gets a square shot and delivers devastating blows head on.

Summary:

Ojulari had 13 sacks in his last 15 games. His burst, bend and closing speed as a pass rusher are undeniable. He still lacks inside counters and his bull rush is raw while seldom used. He’s not dynamic in pursuit of ball carriers, but is cut from a different cloth in terms of physicality when confronting tight ends, backs and slot receivers head on. Presenting some versatility as a physical spot dropper in coverage, he can make an impact in the flats.

Still only 20 years-old, there’s plenty of room for growth, while he can immediately come in and test tackles ability to gain depth in their pass sets. He’s not a liability against the run, and continuing to develop his bull rush and hand placement against the run could turn him into a true three down weapon in the NFL. There’s bound to be some learning curves before that happens, as his lack of inside counters and size will limit him against fluid tackles with length. With consistent development, he could be among the NFL’s best pass rushers by the end of his rookie contract.

Grade: Round 1

One sentence: “Ojulari has room to grow, but his combination of burst and physicality make him a game wrecker against favorable matchups.”

Scheme fit: zone blitz-heavy outside linebacker.