The New York Giants have been looking for more consistent pass rushing from the edge position. The front office believes they may have solved this problem with the drafting of Azeez Ojulari in the second round of last April’s NFL Draft. No question, he brings a long-decorated skillset from his collegiate days at Georgia, which could allow Ojulari to become the Giants breakout star in 2021.
Searching For Consistent Pass Rush, Giants Could Turn to Rookie Ojulari
Getting to the opposing quarterback is still a problem for the G-Men. The defensive unit produced 40 sacks, which ranked them 13th in the NFL last season. The Giants first move in the offseason was making a long-term commitment to the team’s leading pass rusher, Leonard Williams (11.5 sacks), from a year ago.
It has been quite a turnaround for Williams after the Giants acquired him from the Jets. The hard work in the weight room, film sessions, and the practice field helped Williams transformed himself into an elite defensive lineman.
Still, the Giants lack depth in the pass-rushing department. Williams was the only Giants defender to reach double-digits in sacks last season. Now, the projection is for Ojulari picking up the slack in 2021.
Ojulari Was The G-Men Target in Last April’s Draft
It is rare for an organization to trade down twice in the draft and still be able to select a player high on their draft board. But that was the case for the Giants. Ojulari’s skill level should not be taken lightly as he has “potential starter” written all over him.
Scouts pointed that Ojulari has the pedigree for greatness. He was well-coached and showed to be versatile enough to line up anywhere on the Bulldogs defense against the outstanding competition found in the SEC each week. Ojulari knows how to create trouble in an opponent’s backfield.
Quickly, Ojulari showed his passion for football during minicamp. It delivers the kind of energy needed to put pressure on the quarterback. Plus, it does not hurt to be a sure-handed tackler. All of these traits made it easy for the Giants to name him as a starting edge defender heading into training camp next week. Ojulari is one of those special players who are not afraid of what opposing offenses will throw at them during the course of a game.
Williams and Ojulari Could be the Perfect Tandem in 2021
The starting tandem of Williams and Ojulari should cause problems in opposing backfields. Each player should benefit from playing under the tutelage of Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. He is notorious for generating a pass rush by utilizing all 11 men on the field. He loves maximizing the skillset of his defensive unit. Last season, Graham put Williams in a position to dominate opposing blocking assignments against him. And it paid off in big dividends for the star lineman.
In Ojulari’s case, he will devise a scheme that puts the rookie in one-on-one situations that utilize his athleticism. But not to overwhelm him, Graham may use Oshane Ximines as a situational pass rusher. When he is on the field, Ximines responsibilities will be to hurry, hit or sack the quarterback. It is a role that he could excel at in 2021. Both Ojulari and Ximines will become big fans of how Graham’s system allows them to achieve success.
A revamped defense with Ojulari could take the Giants to heights unseen since their last Super Bowl victory in 2011. Do not be surprised to see him make an impact on the defensive side of the ball. Getting to the quarterback regularly could earn Ojulari a “breakout” label and put him in line for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.
It is something to keep an eye on.