It has been widely noted within the Atlanta Falcons fanbase that the University of Georgia is often overlooked by the organization when it comes to drafting talent from the program. That’s a mild way of saying UGA fans are not happy that Atlanta hasn’t prioritized some of the school’s finest in the draft, and haven’t been in a long time.
In recent seasons, there has been prime, elite talent coming from the Bulldogs program, the type of talent that the franchise could have and still can truly use. As I continue to churn out scouting reports on the defensive side of the ball, I decided to take a look at a premier pass rusher out of UGA that can answer a lot of the Falcons pass rushing questions.
Azeez Ojulari Scouting Report
Weight: 245 pounds
Career stats: 68 total tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, 15 sacks, five forced fumbles (23 career games)
Games watched: 2019 vs. Tennessee, 2019 vs. Florida, 2019 vs. Baylor, 2020 vs. Auburn, 2020 vs. Alabama, 2020 vs. Cincinnati
In what was a star-studded recruiting class for the Georgia Bulldogs in 2018, Azeez Ojulari was a four-star recruit as an undersized defensive end that had to climb the ladder a bit to gain playing time within the talented Georgia program. As it stands today, Ojulari is an explosive edge rusher that utilizes his suddenness and quick twitch ability to get to the quarterback.
Ojulari has a solid NFL frame that allows him to show enough hip fluidity and bend around the edge against offensive tackles. If he does not beat opposing blockers with his burst, he is able to combat with his excellent hand usage. It is a trait that is not often seen from speedy young edge rushers who prefer to win with quickness. Ojulari’s hands are strong, fast, and are able to strike at any given moment.
When tasked to defend the run, Ojulari is capable of being an asset thanks to his athletic play and short area quickness. Ojulari’s lateral movement is fluid and swift as is his closing speed on ball carriers. Make no mistake about it, Ojulari is a competitor and is reported to be a very coachable player, willing to put in the necessary work to improve.
The lack of length by Ojulari is a glaring weakness that could be a limiting factor when he gets to the NFL. That aspect alone leaves him with a bit of a muddled future when determining whether he is a hand-in-the-ground defensive end and or a permanent 3-4 outside linebacker.
He will also have to improve in the aspect of play strength. The experience going against SEC-caliber offensive tackles will help, but of course, the talent will be elevated from day one. Winning more battles at the point of attack will elevate his production at the NFL level. At times, Ojulari’s play recognition is questionable, especially when he is tasked to recognize screens and misdirection plays.
Ojulari is recognized as one of the better defenders in the entire NFL Draft, and while his name may not be as marquee as others, he has a widely established reputation as a promising pass rusher that many teams could make use of. He comes equipped with speed, athleticism, and fluidness that can easily allow him to be a 10-sack player year in and year out.
Just like every prospect, Ojulari has his fair share of deficiencies to work on at the next level. With his steady ascension over the years at UGA, Ojulari has a late 1st round ceiling as of now, but could see a slight drop to the early second depending on how the overall board shakes out. That ultimately means that the Falcons could have him squarely on their radar after a trade down in the first. Having Ojulari in a Falcons uniform will give the team a steadily improving talent, while also pleasing a few diehard Bulldogs fans, as well.