NY Giants rookie among top to watch during NFL preseason
NY Giants rookie Azeez Ojulari has had a fast start to training camp, and has the chance this preseason to carve out a significant role in the defense
The NFL preseason is officially underway, and as the NY Giants’ exhibition opener is rapidly approaching against the Jets on August 14 is rapidly approaching, one of the Giants‘ rookies is listed among the most intriguing in the league.
Azeez Ojulari, chosen by the NY Giants in the second-round of this spring’s NFL Draft, made Pro Football Focus’ list of top rookies to watch this preseason:
"The New York Giants lacked pass-rushing prowess on the edge last year. No edge rusher on the team had more than 20 total pressures over the entire season, and even though Lorenzo Carter returns from injury for 2021, Carter’s career-high is just 35. Ojulari had 37 total pressures on just 193 pass rushes in his final season at Georgia, earning a PFF pass-rushing grade of 91.7 and being labeled as “one of the most advanced edge rushers in the class” in the PFF Draft Guide."
So far during the first two weeks of training camp, Ojulari has seemingly been a quick-study in coordinator Patrick Graham’s defense, and has looked like he belongs on the first-team unit, where he has a very real chance of starting his rookie season.
"“The biggest thing for Azeez right now is he’s really shown us a lot of jumps in how he came in in shape in training camp,” NY Giants head coach Joe Judge said Monday. “When we saw him in the spring, like all rookies, I tell you all the time, they come in, they’re not ready to go. That was evident with the way some of those guys handled the conditioning throughout practice in the spring. You watch him out there throughout the duration of practice of maintaining his conditioning level, conditioning at the end of practice, where he is in the pack as far as running. He’s not towards the back, he’s getting up there towards the front, so the demonstration of how he’s working and got himself in physical shape to come in has helped him to this point.”"
During his collegiate career at Georgia, Ojulari averaged 7.5 sacks and 32 total tackles during his two seasons as a starter.
The NY Giants are in dire need of a consistently dominant edge presence, especially given the question marks surrounding Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines’ returns from significant injuries this season, which creates opportunity for Ojulari.
Hailed as one of the premier prospects at his position in this year’s class, the preseason will be Ojulari’s first chance to prove his skill-set translates to the NFL level, and he’s worthy of carving out a significant role in the NY Giants’ defense as a rookie.
Matt Lombardo is FanSided’s National NFL Insider and writes Between The Hash Marks each Wednesday. Email Matt: Matt.Lombardo@FanSided.com