The Future 2021 NFL Draft Prospects: Azeez Ojulari
Updated: Apr 2, 2021
Azeez Ojulari lined up as an edge defender in the Georgia Bulldogs defense and showed he is capable of playing out of both a two and three-point stance. He is a very athletic defender who will need to develop in his technical ability as a pass rusher. His length isn't the greatest so he may be moved into an off-ball linebacker in a 4-3 scheme but I could still see him aligning as a 3-4 edge defender. Below I'll discuss his 1st step explosiveness, his flexibility, his hand counters and hand power, his length, how well he defends the run, his effort, his lateral mobility, his versatility, and how well he can stunt/twist.
1st step explosiveness- his first step can be very inconsistent. There are times where he explodes upfield and then there are times where he seems a step behind. In obvious passing situations, he shows a great burst to get upfield. When he knows he is getting double-teamed or chipped he will wait to get off the ball instead of still attacking upfield to try to blow up the chip or double team.
Flexibility- He shows solid bend to get around the corner and then turn to get back upfield to the quarterback. He does a good job of dipping his shoulder and getting skinny, limiting the surface area for the linemen to block him.
Hand Counters- His initial move when attacking linemen is very good. He can make the first move and sometimes beat linemen with that alone. He struggles when his first move doesn't work as he doesn't consistently have a plan. The few times where it looks like he attacks with a plan he can put together a few moves to get to the quarterback. This is an area of his game that he will need to develop most at the next level.
Hand Power- His hand power is very evident when he plays the run. He takes on blockers aggressively and shows a good ability to pop pulling linemen and lead blockers. He has also shown that he possesses a good power rush and can get a good push to drive linemen backward into the quarterback.
Length- He doesn't have great length which could hurt him when rushing the passer as he won't be able to make that initial contact that is very important. This could lead to him being moved to an off-ball linebacker as I mentioned above but I would still feel comfortable with lining him up as an edge defender. His overall size is a slight concern as an edge rusher and I would prefer my edge rushers to be bigger and longer but he has shown that he can still produce off of the edge in a 3-4 scheme. I wouldn't line him up as a 4-3 defensive end though.
Run Defending- This might be his best trait. He takes on blockers very aggressively and has shown that he can make a play on the ballcarrier even when engaged with blockers. He can with by using his athleticism as well as his overall strength. When the ball is run away from him he does an excellent job of working down the line of scrimmage and pursuing the ball carrier from behind. He has been extremely efficient as a run defender.
Effort- His motor doesn't stop. He doesn't seem to have an off button which is awesome. When in pass-rush situations he can often win strictly based on his effort in trying to get to the quarterback. In the run game, his effort is evident with his ability to constantly pursue the runner from the backside, and even if there are plays that break off he doesn't stop in tracking it down.
Lateral Mobility- He is a very good, natural athlete that moves with ease. He has shown that he can play off the ball and moves very well from side to side. When lined up on the edge he gets down the line of scrimmage with ease and has shown that he can move well in both stunts and twists when rushing the passer.
Versatility- He can play with his hand in the dirt, in a two-point stance, off the ball, and he has shown that he can even drop back into pass coverage. He's a very versatile defender that any NFL coach would love to have on their defense.
Stunts/Twists- As a pass rusher he has shown that ability to be quick off the line but it's inconsistent. This sometimes works to his advantage as he can be a little slower off of the ball which allows him to stunt easily. The pop he possesses in his hand power helps in these situations to also open up lanes for other pass rushers.