2021 NFL draft prospects: Georgia EDGE Azeez Ojulari

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Eric Edholm
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Eric Edholm's criteria for grading NFL draft prospects. (Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports)
Eric Edholm's criteria for grading NFL draft prospects. (Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports)

Georgia EDGE Azeez Ojulari

6-foot-2, 249 pounds

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 6.12 — possible immediate starter

TL;DR scouting report: Smaller-framed rusher with exciting upside and a track record for disruption

Games watched: Notre Dame (2019), Alabama (2020), Florida (2020), Mississippi State (2020), Cincinnati (2020)

The skinny: A 4-star Rivals recruit (No. 173 nationally), Ojulari committed to the Bulldogs and redshirted in 2018, rehabbing from a torn ACL he suffered late in his senior season in high school. He did appear in three games that season, making four tackles (one for a loss), seeing extensive time in the bowl game vs. Texas. In 2019, Ojulari started 13 of 14 games and made 36 tackles (six for losses), 5.5 sacks, one pass defended and four forced fumbles, earning the team's Most Improved Defensive Player award. As a redshirt sophomore in 2020, he had 31 tackles (12.5 for losses), 8.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, one recovery and two passes defended, earning second-team all-SEC. Ojulari declared early for the 2021 NFL draft.

Upside: Well-defined physique. Strapping upper body with tremendous musculature. Racked out 26 reps on the bench press. Has a frame that can support more bulk. Should be able to handle rush duties on the line, play the run and drop when needed.

Ran a 4.63 40-yard dash (with a 1.6-second 10-yard split) and had solid numbers in the broad jump (128 inches) and short shuttle (4.34 seconds). Worked well in drills — both as a defensive end and as a linebacker. Rangy, athletic rusher who can also drop into space. Dropped a handful of plays per game and wasn’t out of place dropping in short zones.

Excellent length for a smaller-framed EDGE — great arm length (34 1/2 inches), wingspan (82 1/2 inches) and hand size (10 1/2 inches). Plays stronger and bigger than his size. Able to combat longer, bigger blockers with great flexibility, balance and quickness. Great first step that gets tackles in a defensive position early. Packs some punch in a smaller frame — shocked Notre Dame OT Liam Eichenberg with a bull rush as a redshirt freshman.

Sets up blockers well. Has some pass-rush structure and strategy to his game. Natural feel for leverage and stacking moves. Advanced hand work for a 20-year-old — flashes a quality swipe to keep hands off his body. Got the best of Alabama’s Alex Leatherwood, a possible first-rounder, in their matchup. Corners the edge like he’s on rails. Aggressive attacking bigger bodies.

ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 07: Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Azeez Ojulari (13) reacts after a sack in the first half of the Murray State Racers v Georgia Bulldogs game on September 7, 2019 at Sanford Stadium in Athens, GA. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Georgia pass rusher Azeez Ojulari is undersized but disruptive. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Has edge-setting potential — knows what he needs to do to funnel runners back inside. Uses his reach and quickness to gain an advantage. Will slide off some blocks and can beat pulling linemen to their spot. Great pursuit defender who can track down ball carriers from the backside. Disruptive — over two seasons of starting, notched five career forced fumbles, 18.5 tackles for loss, 14 sacks (in about 500 pass-rush snaps).

Turns 21 years old mid-June — ascending talent who is just starting to scratch the surface. Named a captain as a redshirt freshman — almost unheard of in the SEC. Takes to coaching well. Earned respect for his work ethic, humility, mindset and approach. Strong fundamental base for a young player. Tough and accountable.

Downside: Below-average size for a hand-in-the-dirt rusher. Lacks true base power to sink and anchor. Led to some inconsistencies as a run defender and pass rusher.

Still can add arrows to his pass-rush quiver. Gets a little repetitive at times and can diversify his attack — perhaps a good crossface counter. Tips his hand out of the chute at times. Times when tackles just swallowed him whole. Got reach-blocked by some tackles and tight ends — some blocks just seemed to stick to him like epoxy.

Not as quick or explosive at pro day as expected — surprisingly poor vertical jump (30 inches) and 3-cone drill (7.27 seconds). Does occasionally show some stiffness in his hips and ankles when moving laterally and making quick direction changes.

Might need to be a rotational player, at least to start — not used to heavy lifting. Averaged 37.5 snaps per game in 2020 (34.9 in 2019) and only once topped 52 snaps in a game the past two seasons.

Best-suited destination: Ojulari might be best served as a Steelers-type outside rusher who can get a little momentum into his take-on blocks and gain a head of steam as a rusher while also providing a little more versatility with his ability to drop. We still think he can be a weakside rusher in a 4-man front, but he might not offer quite as much value to those teams.

Did you know: Ojulari’s grandfather, Prince Twins Seven-Seven, was a Nigerian prince and a famous artist and dancer who moved to Philadelphia later in his career, eventually being named one of UNESCO’s Artists for Peace. He was internationally known enough to warrant a New York Times obituary, dying at the age of 67 — on Ojulari’s 11th birthday, in fact.

Player comp: Dante Fowler Jr.

Expected draft range: Mid-to-late first round