Falcons: Could Azeez Ojulari provide value in a trade-down scenario?

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It’s no secret the Falcons need help rushing the passer. Selecting even the very best edge in this class won’t turn the entire defense around, so Terry Fontenot will likely address the outside linebacker/ edge position through free agency as well as the draft — it needs that much help. Trading back out of the fourth overall pick or Azeez Ojulari falling to the second round (unlikely) could present an opportunity to grab the former UGA Bulldog from Marietta, Georgia.


Ojulari is an explosive athlete with the best first step in this class. He’s played mostly from a three-point stance, but he is able to line up in a two-point stance too. He’s more of a speed rusher, but relentless nonetheless. Ojulari is also great at using his long arms to stab and club offensive linemen to get to the edge. Occasionally, he will catch tackles off guard with a surprisingly effective bull rush.

Ojulari shows great dexterity in the ability to bend around the corner while still working his hands to free himself. He utilizes swipes, chops, and rips to get his hands free to get an angle and flatten to the quarterback. When his stab gets countered correctly and his rushes fail, Ojulari has quick reactions to get his hands up and bat passes.

All of this speed and athleticism in his game doesn’t take away from the pop when Ojulari gets home. He’s more sturdy than his frame suggests. He will beat up tight ends, driving them back into ball carriers. Despite being slight, he doesn’t give up ground to tackles often. Ojulari is a willing run defender, especially on pulling guards, i.e., Deonte Brown — who is  6-foot-4, 350 pounds.


The big knock on Ojulari is his lack of a pass-rush arsenal. He lacks power in his hands and rarely attempts to bull rush. He often gets good placement with long arm stabs, but rarely attempts to drive blockers with it. If he doesn’t initially win, he waits too long to counter but does eventually. He needs to improve and refine his overall technique as a pass rusher, but, ideally, a team like the Falcons could be patient with his development if they bring in another free-agent edge to play opposite Dante Fowler — effectively putting Ojulari as the #3.

Team Fit

Ojulari is a perfect 3-4 outside linebacker. Any defense with hybrid even/odd front principles will have no problem using him as a valuable chess piece — a zone blitz-heavy outside linebacker. Physically, Ojulari would be a good fit with Atlanta in Dean Pees’ defense. He’s a versatile prospect that can rush outside the tight end, tackle, or guard in a three or two-point stance, but also possesses the athleticism to periodically drop into coverage.

Pees loves to scheme exotic blitz where anyone can come after the passer and anyone can drop into coverage — perfect for Ojulari. The most important thing for Ojulari is his development. That’s one reason it doesn’t make sense for the Falcons unless Fontenot signs a veteran free agent to play opposite Fowler, allowing Ojulari to take his time getting on the field.


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