In an era of collegiate and professional football in which offenses are setting scoring records on a consistent basis, positional value has begun to change.
With a more pass-oriented sport comes value placed upon quarterbacks and receivers, which means defensively the value has shifted to pass rushers and defensive backs.
Of the top-25 NFL Salaries, 19 are quarterbacks. The other six? Left tackles, and pass rushers. It's not only the monetary value that's invested in these individuals either, they take similar precedence in the NFL Draft as well. This is why a player like Azeez Ojulari becomes a commodity headed into the 2021 NFL Draft.
After just two years as a starter at Georgia, Ojulari has seen his draft stock skyrocket and is off to the NFL. So, what are NFL Scouts so fascinated with?
Burst and bend. They are the basic requirements for edge rushers in today's era of football. In order to get after the quarterback in the NFL, you have to have elite quickness and Ojulari has it in spades. The common scouting term for this is twitch. Ojulari is consistently placing SEC tackles in poor body positioning, forcing them to open their hips early in the rep. This is a direct indicator of what the threat of a speed rush does to offensive tackles.
Take a look at this yep against Tennessee:
Additionally, Ojulari is one of the most consistent hand fighters in this year's NFL Draft. He has a plethora of moves that allow him to disengage the hands of the opposing tackle and paired with his elite bend allows him to capture the edge on a consistent basis.
He's also a top-notch run defender as well, though edge defenders get paid to rush.
When you look at conventional defensive ends like a JJ Watt, or Chase Young, typically you are looking at defenders that are at least 260 pounds and up. Ojulari is currently hovering around 240. This could scare off some NFL evaluators, however, Ojulari has been setting the edge in the run game for two straight seasons in the SEC against the premier offensive line talent college football has to offer.
There are questions about Ojulari's backup plan as an edge rusher though. If he's not able to capture the edge, there's no current evidence that he has a developed second move. Eventually, he will need to find some type of inside move, whether it's a rip, spin, or chop to keep tackles honest on the NFL level otherwise they will just run him around the quarterback's launch point.
Here's a full breakdown of Azeez Ojulari:
You will know just how much tape NFL Draft analysts have watched on Azeez Ojulari by the way they talk about his scheme fit. People get caught up in Georgia's depth chart being listed as a 3-4 scheme and will assume that Ojulari is your standard outside linebacker. Well, I'm here to tell you he is far from it. Ojulari has spent the overwhelming majority of his snaps in college with his hand in the dirt playing a conventional 7-technique.
He's schematically versatile. If you want him to play as an outside linebacker in a conventional 3-4 defense, that's fine. But he's also shown the ability to play defensive end in a four-down front like he's down for the majority of his college career.