"A freaking steal."
That was Dan Shonka, general manager and national scout for Ourlads Scouting Services when asked about former Georgia Football edge rusher Azeez Ojulari landing with the New York Giants with the No. 50 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft.
It was a shock to most that followed the coverage of Ojulari leading up to the NFL Draft. Early in the process, he was projected to be a first-round pick, and despite lacking the "NFL frame" for a dominant edge rusher, Ojulari more than proved in his collegiate career that he had an advanced pass-rushing skillset. It didn't take the Giants long to identify that skillset.
“The thing that separated Azeez from others was he’s pro-ready with his hands,’’ said Chris Pettit, the Giants’ director of college scouting. “He’s instinctive. The guy has the ability to make big plays in big spots. He’s ultra-competitive. He has good instincts.’’
That's only the beginning of the list of notable members of the Giants organization that Ojulari has already left with a positive impression of the former Georgia standout. Inside linebacker and team captain Blake Martinez put it rather simply: "He's a freaky-looking player."
Martinez would know what special individuals look like on the NFL level. He's entering his sixth year in the NFL and has seen what the league has to offer at the edge-rusher position.
According to the New York Post's Paul Schwartz, don't be surprised to see Ojulari starting for the Giants this season:
"At the very least, Ojulari, with the Giants, will move in immediately on passing downs. Some scouts viewed him as the best natural pass rusher in the entire draft. If he shows he can handle an expanded role, it would not be shocking at all if he emerged, rather quickly as a starting outside linebacker."
Ojulari is an exceptional football player and his production at Georgia provides concrete evidence of that. However, the thing that has people within the Giants building most excited is his presence within the locker room and his impact on the culture of the organization.
It's the same thing that drew Georgia head coach Kirby Smart to Ojulari, making him the first freshman captain under his watch at Georgia.
“He’s a high-character player off the field,’’ Smart said. “He is going to be an asset in the Giants’ locker room. He makes your whole team better, but he’s also very talented.”
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