Azeez Ojulari was one of three members of Georgia’s 2018 signing class who made the decision to declare for the 2021 NFL Draft, as opposed to returning to Georgia for a fourth season.
And so far in the draft process, that has proven to look like the correct call as just about every mock draft sees the outside linebacker as a first-round pick.
ESPN’s Todd McShay’s mock draft is the most recent one to pencil in Ojulari as a first-rounder, as the analyst has Ojulari landing with the Tennessee Titans with the No. 22 overall pick.
“Edge rushing is by far the biggest problem for the Titans, especially after the one-year deals for Jadeveon Clowney and Vic Beasley didn’t work out,” McShay wrote. “Ojulari is certainly a start after the Titans suffered a net decline of 24 sacks from 2019 to 2020. I love his first-step quickness and “dip-and-rip” move coming around the corner.”
If the Titans were to take Ojulari, it would be the second-straight season where they used their first pick on a Georgia Bulldog. Tennessee took offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Ojulari led the SEC in sacks in 2020 as he picked up 8.5 in just 10 games for the Bulldogs. He ended his college career with a bang, picking up 3.0 sacks, two forced fumbles and a safety in Georgia’s 24-21 win over Cincinnati. Ojulari won defensive MVP honors for his role in the win.
“It was important for me to just to make sure the seniors go out the right way,” Ojulari said. “Their last game, they worked so hard in this unpredictable season. You never know. Just got the opportunity to play for another game, so I took advantage of it, to play with my brothers. It was great.”
Ojulari was also Georgia’s top pass rusher as a redshirt freshman in 2019, picking up 5.5 sacks for Georgia. He missed most of his freshman season as he was recovering from a knee injury he sustained during his senior year of high school.
Ojulari doesn’t have the greatest size as he’s listed at 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds. But he was still a force for Georgia thanks in part to his quickness and agility. He was also a key reason why the Bulldogs had the nation’s top run defense in each of the last two seasons.
While there might not be a clear Chase Young-type edge rusher in this year’s class, there will be a lot of competition for Ojulari to ensure he lands in the first round. McShay has fellow edge rushers Gregory Rousseau, Jaelan Phillips and Kwity Paye all coming off the board in the 16-21 range.
There won’t be a traditional NFL combine this season, which will put all the more pressure on Ojulari to perform well at Georgia’s pro-day. Testing well there athletically will go a long way in making sure he ends up remaining a first-round pick.
The Bulldogs have had a first-round pick in each of the past four seasons, with Wilson and Andrew Thomas going in the first round of last year’s draft. Strong pre-draft performances from Eric Stokes or Tyson Campbell could help vault them into the back-half of the first round as well.
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