Each day leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft, we will take a look at prospects that should be on the Carolina Panthers' radar. We will look at roughly eleven prospects per round to give a better idea of potential draftees beyond just the first round.
Here's our schedule for the next 80 days:
1st Round: Feb. 8th - Feb. 21st
2nd Round: Feb. 22nd - Mar. 6th
3rd Round: Mar. 7th - Mar. 18th
4th Round: Mar. 19th - Mar. 29th
5th Round: Mar. 30th - Apr. 8th
6th Round: Apr. 9th - Apr. 18th
7th Round: Apr. 19th - Apr. 28th
Prospect No. 6: EDGE Azeez Ojulari
Height: 6'3" Weight: 240 lbs
Draft range: Top 15-20
Analysis: The 2021 NFL Draft class does not have a ton of elite pass rushers but Azeez Ojulari out of Georgia fits that description. As a matter of fact, he is my top EDGE prospect in this class.
Carolina does have a need for pass rushers as they ranked 23rd in sacks per game (1.8). Drafting Yetur Gross-Matos in last year's draft is a good start, but they need more bodies. Drafting Ojulari seems unlikely unless Carolina trades back or he somehow falls to them early in the 2nd round.
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.
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 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.
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