Mel Kiper Jr. slots Azeez Ojulari into perfect first-round home in latest ESPN NFL mock draft
As we continue to move closer and closer to the 2021 NFL Draft, it is becoming more and more apparent that Azeez Ojulari is seen as a first-round pick.
Normally, Ojulari would get a chance to showcase his athleticism and impress teams in face-to-face meetings this week, as this is when the NFL draft combine is traditionally held in Indianapolis. But with the NFL cancelling the event this year, the draft will be more of a projection than it usually is.
Still, a number of top NFL draft experts continue to see Ojulari as one of the top players in this draft. That includes the most notable name when it comes to the NFL mock drafts in ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.
The longtime NFL draft expert sees Ojulari as one of the top edge rushers in the class. Which is why Kiper has Ojulari landing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the No. 32 overall selection in the draft.
“With the uncertainty around whether free-agent defensive end Shaq Barrett will return, it makes sense for the Bucs to get younger on the edge,” Kiper Jr. wrote. “Azeez Ojulari had 8.5 sacks last season, including three in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl win. He has some versatility to move around the defense, but he’s one of the top pure pass-rushers in this class.”
In addition to Barrett, Tampa Bay also has veteran defenders such as Jason Pierre-Paul on the roster. Landing with the Super Bowl champions would be a perfect landing spot for the Georgia rookie.
The Bulldogs have had a first-round pick in each of the past three drafts, with Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson going in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Ojulari, a team captain while at Georgia, led the Bulldogs in each of the past two seasons. The 8.5 sacks are the most by a Bulldog since Jarvis Jones hit 13.5 in his 2012 season. Jones also went on to become a first-round draft pick.
For his efforts in the Peach Bowl win over Cincinnati, Ojulari was named the game’s defensive MVP. In addition to the 3.0 sacks picked up by Ojulari, he also forced two fumbles and a safety in the 24-21 win.
Kiper previously listed cornerback Tyson Campbell as a first-round pick. However, the lack of combine really hurts prospects like Campbell and fellow junior Eric Stokes, as they likely would’ve run strong 40-yard dash times.
With no combine this year, Georgia players will have to impress at Georgia’s pro day, which is tentatively scheduled for March 17. Ojulari, Campbell, Stokes and a host of other draft-eligible Bulldogs will need to use that day as a chance to really show NFL teams what they are capable of.
The 2021 NFL Draft is set to begin on April 29 and conclude on May 1.
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