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Instant analysis: Azeez Ojulari pick carries long-term risk, but aids the pass rush

The Giants finally add a pass rusher

Allstate Sugar Bowl - Baylor v Georgia Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

With the 50th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft the New York Giants have selected Georgia edge rusher Azeez Ojulari.

For the second time this year — and the second time since 2006 — the Giants traded back. The Giants clearly didn’t like the value of the prospects available at the 42nd overall pick and traded back with the Miami Dolphins, acquiring a third-round pick in the 2022 draft in the process.

Trades were a common occurrence in the second round, with five marking the start of the round, including the Giants’ move back. So now with the 50th overall pick, the Giants finally filled the hole at “EDGE” on their defense.

Ojulari, 6-foot-2, 245, rushed from both the left and right side of the Georgia defense, doing so from a 2 and 3-point stance. At just 20 years old, Ojulari is a young pass rusher with the potential to improve as he continues to unlock his athletic upside and refine his technique. As things stand now, Ojulari has limited pass rush moves, but his limited repertoire was certainly effective in college.

Patrick Graham could make good use of both Ojulari’s athleticism and versatility to rush from multiple alignments and stances, as well as drop into shallow coverage to help disguise pressures.

There was a robust debate before the draft as to who was the top EDGE prospect in the draft, and there were many who thought Ojulari could be that guy — including BBV’s own Nick Falato.

But if Ojulari would have been an acceptable pick for many at 11th overall — and he would have been — how did he manage to fall 40 spaces to 50th overall?

The answer seems to be some significant questions regarding the health of a knee he injured in high school. Ojulari tore his ACL as a senior in high school, forcing him to red shirt his freshman year at Georgia. Ojulari played every game of his red-shirt sophomore and junior years, and had Dr. James Andrews send a letter confirming the health of his knee to all 32 teams in January. However, NFL teams conducted their own assessments at the medical re-check at the beginning of April. And, as Tony Pauline reported, teams were concerned with Ojulari’s knee after those re-checks.

So what to make of this pick?

In the short term, this pick isn’t without risk, but Ojulari should provide a significant boost to a Giants’ defense which relied heavily on coverage and blitz schemes to generate pressure. We’ll have to see what the future holds for Ojulari and his knee, but the initial payoff for this pick could be impressive.